Charlotte Bankes, Women’s Snowboarding, Snowboard Cross
It’s not often Great Britain can boast a champion in a winter sports event away from the Olympics, but Charlotte Bankes is an exception to the rule.
As Team GB’s sole member of the 50-strong athlete team arriving in Beijing as world champion, the Snowboard Cross number one is probably Britain’s best hope for not only a place on the podium, but to take Gold in China.
Though hailing from Hemel Hempstead, Bankes will compete at an Olympics for the first time in GB colours this year, having represented her adopted country of France for the past two Games in Sochi and Pyeongchang.
Having moved with her family to the French Alps at the age of four, Bankes adorned the colours of the Tricolor until shortly after the last Games in South Korea, when Bankes opted to switch allegiances back to the land of her birth, due largely to her failure to recover from a pelvic injury.
The switch has paid handsome rewards for all parties involved, not least Bankes herself.
Finishing a best-placed third in the Olympic small final in 2018, Bankes took her first World Cup podium finish as a GB boarder in December of that year in Cervinia, Italy, finishing behind perennial rivals Eva Samkova and Lindsey Jacobellis.
Taking a step up the podium for silver at the FIS Freestyle Ski and Snowboarding World Championships in 2019, Bankes then took a stunning Gold 12 months ago at the 2021 edition in Idre Fjall, Sweden.
Top of the World Cup standings in 2022, Bankes is some 70pts ahead of former compatriot in France’s Chloe Trespeuch, with the battle for the medal rostrum likely to come also from Samkova, Jacobellis, Italy’s Michela Moioli and Australian Belle Brockhoff.
Snowboard cross is one of the most thrilling and unpredictable events of any Winter Olympic program since its introduction in 2014, but Bankes knows she has the beating of the best women on the planet.
Could Beijing 2022 see Bankes complete a remarkable world and Olympic double?
Charlotte Bankes competes in the Women’s snowboard cross on Wednesday 9 February, at the Genting Snow Park H and S Stadium, with initial qualification runs at 01:30 GMT.
Dave Ryding, Alpine Skiing, Men’s Slalom
Is ‘The Rocket’ timing his run toward Beijing to perfection? Quite possibly.
In what will be Dave Ryding‘s fourth Winter Games, the man from Lancashire who learned his craft on dry ski slopes from the age of eight arrives in China with realistic hopes of a podium finish again, but now surely his best to date.
The 35-year-old, who has improved his finish at every Olympics so far (27th in Vancouver, 17th in Sochi and 9th in Pyeongchang) made British sporting history less than a fortnight ago winning his first World Cup event.
Going one better than his runner-up spot on the Hahnenkamm at Kitzbuhel in 2017 to the great Marcel Hirscher, Ryder won in Austria on January 21 to remarkable scenes.
In doing so, the Briton became not only the oldest athlete to win a slalom on tour, but was the first ever GB skier to win an alpine skiing event.
Last time out in South Korea, Ryding was an outside shot of a medal, but coming into Beijing is arguably in better form.
Ryding will be looking to be the first British name on the podium since Alain Baxter finished third in Salt Lake City, who was then controversially stripped of bronze after testing positive for a banned substance.
Like snow cross, slalom skiing requires all the elements to fall into place more than any other alpine event, with the biggest emphasis on technical skill but perhaps above all, good fortune.
Now with four top-three finishes in his career, Ryding may only be ranked 11th in the world but in what could be his last Winter Olympics, is primed to end his time on the piste in fine style.
If all the elements come together for the Briton, Dave could be riding off into the winter sunset.
Dave Ryding goes in the Men’s slalom at the Yanqing National Alpine Skiing Centre on Wednesday 16 February, with the first run at 02:15 GMT. The medal run takes place at 05:45.
Women’s Curling, Eve Muirhead, Vicky Wright, Jennifer Dodds, Hailey Duff, Mili Smith
It’s time to get seriously invested in curling once more.
In a sport that has been Team GB’s third-most successful Winter Olympic event, Britain’s women will look to win a fifth Winter Olympic medal for Britain in Beijing and their chances of doing so are more than realistic.
Skippered by a now 31-year-old Eve Muirhead for a fourth-successive Games, the Perth native is joined by Vicky Wright, Jennifer Dodds,Hailey Duff and alternate Mili Smith, with the quartet finishing top of highly competitive round robin pool in qualification, ahead of both Japan and South Korea.
Muirhead will lock horns with her old foes Jennifer Jones and Madeleine Dupont for Canada and Denmark respectively, with both teams expected to feature prominently.
Since Rhona Martin‘s now infamous final stone to seal Gold in Salt Lake City 20 years ago, GB’s women have tasted both success and failure at Winter Games in equal measure.
For Muirhead, a second Olympic medal to add to her bronze in Sochi eight years ago will be the goal, not least after a crushing defeat to Sweden in the semi-finals in Pyeongchang, then seeing her bruised troupe go on to lose the bronze medal match to Japan.
Team GB’s curlers have unfinished business in China. For Muirhead in particular, only one colour will do.
GB’s Women begin their Olympic campaign at the National Aquatics Centre against Sweden, on Wednesday 2 February at 12:05 GMT
Katie Ormerod, Women’s Snowboarding, Freestyle
Four years on from seeing her Olympic dreams snatched away, Katie Ormerod has the chance of the ultimate redemption on her return to the Far East in 2022.
One of GB’s strongest medals hopes four years back, the Yorkshire athlete was then cruelly forced to withdraw after sustaining a double-break of her heel in training on the eve of competition.
Forced to undergo rigorous rehab which involved learning how to walk again, Ormerod returned smarter, wiser and more mature.
Wasting little time in becoming the first British snowboarder to win a World Cup title just under two years ago, Ormerod is quietly making waves on the piste ahead of the Games.
Having been the first female snowboarder to land a backwards double cork 1080 in the early years of her career – one of the most complex manoeuvres in snowboarding, which involves three rotations and two inverted flips – Ormerod is still regarded as one of the few boarders around who when it all clicks, could be hard to beat.
Keen to take the baton from not only Atkin but also Billy Morgan when the success of GB snowboarding went through the roof last time out, Ormerod, as she told The Mirror earlier this month, is quietly confident of her chances:
“I know now that I can overcome anything.
“Any obstacle that life throws at me, I know that I can deal with it and I’ll come back stronger.
“I know now that, because I went through it [injury], I can overcome anything and I feel so much stronger because of that.”
Barring further untimely injury, the Briton will likely go close to the podium.
Katie Ormerod goes in the Women’s snowboarding slopestyle on Sunday 6 February, at Genting Snow Park H and S Stadium and in the Women’s big air on Tuesday 15 February at Big Air Shougang, Both start at 01:30 GMT.
Laura Deas, Women’s Skeleton
If curling has been one of the biggest draws for Team GB hopes in any Winter Games, skeleton has become the towering pedestal for homegrown hopes of a medal – not least Gold.
Having ruled the roost for 12 years on the sliding track, the torch embers lit by Shelly Rudman‘s silver 16 years ago in Torino were then set ablaze by Amy Williams in Vancouver, then handed off to Lizzy Yarnold in Sochi.
Yarnold then came returned from having her first child to sensationally retain her Olympic crown in South Korea, to remarkable and emotional scenes.
Followed onto the podium four years ago by teammate Laura Deas, in Beijing, it is now Deas herself who leads the British charge alone for a fourth Olympic sliding crown on the bounce.
Though Beijing may not retain the idyllic winter backdrop for skeleton in 2022 – the Chinese capital having only seen 2mm of snow in the past month – Deas need not be put off by less typical surroundings, already with an Olympic medal to boast.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, skeleton has been one the most affected disciplines and Deas’ form has been inconsistent, currently only sneaking into the World Cup top 20.
However, the Welsh slider has already spoken of her excitement of what is a fast track in Beijing and if we also consider that the unusual conditions may not favour the likes of favourites Janine Flock and Kimberley Bos, Deas could yet feature again.
With only Germany’s Jacqueline Loelling the remaining medalist from the 2018 podium in the field, Deas does not hold the burden of pressure on her shoulders.
That, for a Team GB athlete in a Winter Olympics, could yet bring another welcome surprise.
Laura Deas goes in the Women’s skeleton on Friday 11 February, at the Yanqing National Sliding Centre with the first run at 01:30 GMT.
The XXIV Olympic Winter Games take place in Beijing, China, between the 4th and 20th of February. Viewers in the UK can follow daily live coverage of the Games on BBC TV, Eurosport and Discovery+
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