2022 Winter Olympics Continues…
28th January 2022 | Jane Peel, Chief Reporter
Last modified on February 8th, 2022
Two weeks of snowsport sporting action is underway and we are updating in this rolling blog. We look at the Team GB skiers & snowboarders who are competing, and assess their prospects. UPDATED
Almost 3,000 athletes from 91 nations are competing for the 109 gold medals on offer across seven sports.
Beijing is the first city to host both the summer and winter Games – it held the summer Olympics in 2008.
The event takes place across three venue areas.
Beijing itself will host the indoor events – curling, speed skating, figure skating and ice hockey, as well as the big air and the opening and closing ceremonies.
Yanqing, located 75km (47 miles) out of Beijing, is the home of the sliding sports – bobsleigh, skeleton, luge and alpine skiing.
The mountains of Zhangjiakou, 180km (111 miles) away from the Chinese capital, host the freestyle skiing and snowboarding events, ski jumping, biathlon and cross-country.
Here at PlanetSKI we are updating across the Games with the help of GB Snowsport and others:
Monday, February 7th
Brilliant stuff, Kirsty Muir 🇬🇧🔥
— Eurosport (@eurosport) February 7, 2022
Katie Summerhayes failed to reach the finals.
Age: 17 Hometown: Aberdeen
Result: 7th and into tomorrow’s final
On the performance
“I was really happy to have landed my dub 12 in the first run. I had a crash in practice with it, so really happy to have just landed it and done it clean.
“A dub 12 is like two flips and then one-and-a-half degrees of rotation, then I grab the skis just behind my boot.
“That’s my best trick, and I wanted to land it on my first run.
“I was so happy. Really excited to be in the finals. It’s a dream come true. I just can’t believe it.”
On tomorrow’s final
“I can clean up the grabs and there’s a few little things I could improve on so I just want to go ski my best in the final.
“I’m really happy with how I did that dub 12 and if I can do that tomorrow I’ll be really happy.
“Everyone goes to a final with hopes of doing their best and just seeing how it goes and that’s what I want to do.”
On the crowd
It’s really nice to have a crowd because we never have a crowd being up in the mountains. They were all so supportive and it was really cool to have a crowd.”
Age: 26 Hometown: Sheffield
On the performance
“I’m really happy with the way it went. I don’t really feel like a Big Air skier so to come 13th I’m really stoked.
“To miss out on finals by one spot is tough but I never thought I would finish 13th, so I’m really happy.”
On competing in the slopestyle on Sunday
“Prior to training for this, I haven’t really skied in two weeks so it was nice to warm up on the Big Air.
“I think people might have preferred Big Air second so then you can really throw yourself about.
“But I’m happy and will go into slopestyle feeling really strong after my performance today.
“Slopestyle is what I have come here for. This is a bonus event for me. I’m really excited. I’ve seen the course on TV and it looks great.”
On whether the slopestyle course is too big
“It’s not too big, never. I might be saying that differently next week. I haven’t even rode down the side of it yet.
“We never see a course and then take this long to ride it. You usually see it and then you’re on it.”
On why she has not been skiing for two weeks
“I’ve just been at home. With Covid I really wanted to make sure I made it out here so I pretty much just isolated at home for ten days and then we were here for about a week before we could actually train. It felt a bit strange skiing again.”
On trick selection
“You can do whatever trick you want. We have three runs and you need to do two different scoring tricks.
“If you want you can do the same one all three runs but that wouldn’t score very well.
“I just did three different tricks because I landed every one. I just thought how am I going to get the most points.”
On teammate Kirsty Muir’s performance after she qualified in seventh for the final
“It’s great to see Kirsty doing well. I’m so stoked for her. To make finals is great.
“I’m just excited to see all the girls throw down, it’s going to be a good competition tomorrow. It’s a big moment for Kirsty.
“It’s pretty crazy. She is nine years younger than me so I feel old. When I look down the start list there are not many of us (born) in the 1990s now. It’s pretty sad!
“With Kirsty, we had the Youth Olympics, we were pretty much the same age at both of our first Games. I try to give her advice but I think she’s got it sorted.”
On snowboarder Katie Ormerod who finished 18th in the slopestyle on Saturday
“Katie O is one of my best mates, we speak constantly. I was asking her how slopestyle was, she was asking me how this is.
“She has already text me saying well done. We talk anyway about everything – the food, accommodation, not just the slopes.
“For her to finally be an Olympian, I’m so stoked. I know full well what she has been through, I was on that journey with her.
“When she broke her heel, I was rehabbing my knee too. I could have cried for her the other day, honestly.”
This from the BBC’s Anna Thompson in Beijing:
Teenager Kirsty Muir qualified for the Winter Olympics ski big air final – but fellow Team GB athlete Katie Summerhayes narrowly missed out.
Muir, 17, was seventh with a score of 157.50 in Beijing while Summerhayes agonisingly finished 13th on 136.50, with the top 12 advancing to Tuesday’s final.
“I was really happy to land my first jump, as I had crashed during practice a bit.” Muir said after scoring 89.25, which was the second highest individual score in qualifying.
The Scot said it was a dream come true to compete at an Olympics and she was “really excited” for the final as ski big air makes its Games debut at a former industrial estate in Shougang.
“I can clean up the grabs and there’s a few little things I could improve on so I just want to go ski my best in the final,” she said.
“Everyone goes to a final with hopes of doing their best and just seeing how it goes and that’s what I want to do.”
Muir won silver in big air at the 2018 Winter Youth Olympics but has had more success on the senior World Cup tour in slopestyle, which she will also contest in Beijing.
More to follow…
Sunday, February 6th:
⭐ THE BEST EVER MOGULS RESULT FOR A BRITISH SKIER ⭐
8️⃣th place for Makayla @GS_ski
— GB Snowsport (@GBSnowsport) February 6, 2022
Saturday, February 5th:
The Opening Ceremony took place on Friday.
“As a British Olympian, it is the greatest honour to be asked to carry our country’s flag,” said Dave Ryding ahead of the ceremony.
“Many amazing athletes have been chosen to do this role in the past and it goes without saying that it is one of the proudest moments of my career.
“I have always represented Team GB with the greatest of pride and for my fourth Olympics this will make it extra special.
“I am one of 50 Winter Olympians representing Team GB in Beijing, we are part of an amazing country and I know we will give our upmost to perform to the best of our abilities out here.”
UK Sport believes Team GB can win between three and seven medals in Beijing,
A total of 5 medals is the previous best, which Team GB achieved in 2014 and 2018.
“We are confident we are taking a more competitive team across more disciplines than ever before. That’s a great place to be in,” chef de mission Georgina Harland told BBC Sport.
“What’s great is we are confident there will be interest across those full 16 days of competition, so something for everybody back home to get behind.”
As the Winter Olympics started PlanetSKI Looked at the GB snowsport medal prospects:
GB Snowsport has 21 athletes in Beijing, competing in nine different disciplines.
Almost all – 18 – are skiers with just three snowboarders selected.
11 are men, 10 are women.
There are some genuine medal prospects and others whose strong form suggests they should make the top 10 in their events.
Nine of those selected will be competing at their first Olympics.
They include Team GB’s youngest competitor, 17-year-old freestyle skier, Kirsty Muir.
In January 2020, aged 15, she won big air silver at the Youth Winter Olympics.
In March 2021, she won slopestyle silver in the World Cup at Aspen.
She made her X Games debut this month, finishing 5th in slopestyle.
Three of the team are competing at a Winter Games for a fourth time.
Inevitably, fans of ski racing will have their eyes on one of them, 35-year-old Dave Ryding.
Beijing is likely his last Olympics.
After racing into the history books with the nation’s first Alpine World Cup victory in Kitzbühel on 22nd January, he can’t be ruled out as a medal contender.
- Phenomenal! World Cup Victory for Dave Ryding
- The Dave Ryding Story
- How Good Was Dave Ryding’s Victory?
However, the margins are so tight in slalom racing, with a straddle just a split second away, that anything could happen.
The six World Cup men’s slalom races so far this season have each had a different winner.
There’s no front runner.
Ryding himself has had a rollercoaster of a season, starting off with a 5th place in Val d’Isere, then twice failing to finish.
He’s also had a 16th place and a 20th place finish.
He’s currently 7th in the slalom standings.
“It’s such a huge honour to be named as part of Team GB again, and I can’t wait to get out there and get racing,” Ryding said before his victory in Austria.
“As athletes, we take all our competitions seriously, but there’s something undeniably special about representing the country at an Olympic Games.
“This is a really exciting time for British skiing and snowboarding, and like the whole squad I’m looking forward to giving my all in Beijing.”
The men’s slalom is scheduled to take place on Wednesday 16th February in the early hours of the morning in Europe.
Ryding will be joined in the start gate for the slalom by 25-year-old Billy Major in his Olympic debut.
With great timing, in the last race before the Olympics, the Schladming night slalom, Major earned his first World Cup points.
He finished 18th, ahead even of Ryding.
Perhaps the best prospect for a gold medal for GB is Charlotte Bankes.
The reigning Snowboard Cross World Champion, Bankes has been a dominant force this season with three World Cup victories and a silver medal.
She is leading the World Cup standings and has another race this weekend in Cortina d’Ampezzo before turning her attention to the Olympics.
Bankes competed at the 2014 and 2018 Winter Olympics for France but she switched to represent the country of her birth in November 2018.
This will be her first Olympics under the Union Flag.
It will also be the third Olympics for another ‘defector’, Gus Kenworthy.
The Essex-born freestyle skier was previously on the USA team and won slopestyle silver for the US at Sochi in 2014.
He joined GB Snowsport at the end of 2019 and topped the World Cup podium for the first time representing GB in Calgary in February 2020.
He will compete in ski halfpipe.
Among the other freeskiers in the team are: PyeongChang Olympics bronze medallist in ski slopestyle, Izzy Atkin; James ‘Woodsy’ Woods, who finished 4th in ski slopestyle at PyeongChang; Izzy’s younger sister, Zoe Atkin, who will have her Olympic debut in ski halfpipe; and the previously mentioned teenager Kirsty Muir, who competes in slopestyle and big air.
All could be in with a shout for a medal on their day.
A large contingent of the GB Snowsport squad left for Beijing on Thursday 28th January, among them Woodsy.
The sole snowboard slopestyle and big air athlete travelling to Beijing is Katie Ormerod.
She was a real hope for two gold medals at PyeongChang before suffering a horrific injury in training there before the competition began.
In 2019-20, her first season back after injury, she became the overall World Cup snowboard slopestyle champion.
View this post on Instagram
Ormerod has not been on the podium this season though she came close with a 4th place in slopestyle at Mammoth Mountain earlier this month.
In Cross Country, there’s always a chance that Andrew Musgrave and Andrew Young will upset the apple-cart by challenging the traditional Nordic nations.
They’ve done it before and they have the experience behind them.
It’s the fourth Olympics for them both.
The full list of GB skiers and snowboarders competing can be found at the end of this article.
There are some notable absences.
In alpine, neither Laurie Taylor nor Charlie Raposo made the squad.
In moguls, the Gerken Schofield sisters, Makayla and Leonie, are selected for their first Olympics, but there’s no place for their brother, Thomas.
“My dream has always been to compete for my country at the Olympics but with my twin brother and little sister by my side,” Leonie said on social media.
“In all honesty I have mixed emotions as I feel excited yet deeply upset for my brother.
“We started learning how to ski together, joined the local ski club together, did our first races together, we did and do everything together. It is only normal my sister and I feel sad and crushed by the fact that he won’t be with us for our first Olympics.”
Thomas made sporting history when he won World Cup silver in March 2020.
“This was the most competitive selection process that a British skiing and snowboarding team has ever undergone, and every athlete selected richly deserves their place on the team,” GB Snowsport Olympic Team Manager, Sophie Morrison, said.
“This is also an important moment to acknowledge the incredible efforts of those athletes who missed out on selection, but whose performances on snow and in training have helped push all of us to raise our game in readiness for Beijing.”
The GB Snowsport Head Coach, Pat Sharples, said he was proud of every single athlete in the Squad.
“Behind every name on this list is a huge amount of hard work, determination, and commitment, and every single squad member really deserves their place.
“It’s true, though, that the hard work is only just beginning.
“The next few weeks are going to be a huge challenge, but we back every athlete on this squad to do themselves and their country proud in Beijing.”
GB SNOWSPORT ATHLETES SELECTED FOR TEAM GB IN BEIJING (*Olympic debut)
Moguls – Women
Leonie Gerken Schofield*
Makayla Gerken Schofield*
Moguls – Men
Freeski Halfpipe – Men
Freeski Halfpipe – Women
Freeski Slopestyle & Big Air – Men
Freeski Slopestyle & Big Air – Women
Izzy Atkin (now withdrawn from Big Air)
Snowboard Cross – Men
Snowboard Cross – Women
Snowboard Slopestyle & Big Air
You can find the schedule for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games here
Main Image: CREDIT: © Team GB | Sam Mellish