10+1 stars to watch in 2022 Winter Olympics

The Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics have officially started today and these are some of the names that you should look out for during these Games.

Yuzuru Hanyu (Japan,Figure Skating)

Regarded as one of the best male figure skaters in history, the 27-year old aims to become the first skater to win three consecutive gold medals in the men’s singles since 1928. 

Despite a right ankle ligament injury in November, Hanyu is still the favourite to win and he is targeting to achieve that by attempting to land the first quadruple axel in the sport’s history.

Kamila Valieva (Russian Olympic Committee, Figure Skating)

The 15-year old Russian is making her Olympic debut in Beijing but she arrives in China with plenty of credentials.

Valieva is the newly crowned European Champion and the holder of all three world records in women’s singles. Even though she made her international debut 4 months ago the teenager aims for gold and hopes to repeat the clean sweep that occurred in the recent European championships alongside her teammates Alexandra Trusova and Anna Shcherbakova.

Shaun White (USA, Snowboarding)

Arguably, the most recognizable athlete of the Winter Olympics. The snowboard legend will participate in his fifth Olympics and is aiming for a fourth gold medal in the men’s halfpipe.

The 35-year old tried to participate in last year’s summer Olympics in skateboarding but abandoned that bid so he could focus on Beijing.

White has a celebrity status over in the USA, having participated in Hollywood films and television shows and is looking to close a remarkable career with another gold.

Ireen Wust (Netherlands, Speed Skating)

The most decorated speed skater of all time is looking to extend her 11-medal collection(including 5 golds) in her last Olympics. 

The 35-year-old is going to Beijing targeting a world record and getting a gold medal for a fifth consecutive time, a feat that has never been done before.

Wust will compete in four events, the 1000m,1500m,3000m and the team pursuit. The team event is probably Wust’s best chance of gold as the Dutch team enter the event as a 2018 silver medalist and reigning European Champions.   

Fransesco Friedrich (Germany,Bobsleigh)

The German pilot has been dominating the sport for the past couple of years having won 2 Olympic golds,13 world titles and a record number of wins in the bobsleigh World Cup.

Friedrich won gold at both the two-man and four-man events in Pyeongchang and is aiming to become the first man to do that double for a second time.

The 31-year old goes to Beijing in the form of his life having lost only 2 World Cup races since November 2020 and is looking confident to continue his winning streak in the Olympics.

Arianna Fontana (Italy, Short Track Speed Skating)

The most decorated female short track speed skater with a total of 8 medals is going to Beijing for her fifth Olympics and needs just one medal to become the most decorated athlete in her sport regardless of gender.

Fontana won her first medal in 2006 when she was 16 but won her first and only gold medal in 2018 in the 500m. She will compete in all short track speed skating events in Beijing chasing that one medal that will bring her to the top of her sport.

Mikaela Shiffrin (USA, Alpine Skiing)

The 26-year old American is going to Beijing as the reigning Giant Slalom champion and the combined World Champion. She was 18 back in Sochi when she became the youngest slalom Olympic Champion in history.

Since then, Shiffrin got two more Olympic medals in Pyeongchang and 10 World Championship medals, including 5 golds. She is in a good form, leading the overall standings for the Alpine Ski World Cup even though she missed a couple of competitions in December due to COVID. 

Eileen Gu (China, Freestyle Skiing)

China hasn’t managed to replicate their Summer medal tallies in the Winter Olympics so far. However, as hosts, they want to excel in every sport and 18-year old Eileen Gu is going to play a major part in it. Born and raised in the United States she has been representing her mother’s country for the past 3 years.

Gu will compete in all three freestyle ski disciplines and she will want to replicate what she did last year in the World Championships where she won 2 golds and 1 bronze. China’s snow princess, who is also a model, looks to inspire millions of young people through her achievements in this year’s Olympic Games.

Chloe Kim (USA, Snowboarding)

Not many Winter Olympians can say that they have been included in Time’s list with the 100 most influential people in the world. Kim made that list when she was 18 after becoming the youngest snowboarding Olympic Champion in 2018.

Since then the 21-year old won 2 world titles and had a year off the sport as she was trying to manage the publicity that came after the Pyeongchang gold medal. She overcame those struggles and goes to Beijing to defend her halfpipe title.

Johannes Høsflot Klæbo (Norway, Cross-Country Skiing)

The Norwegian took the world by storm in his Olympic debut 4 years ago winning three gold medals. Since then Klæbo won 6 world titles and became the most successful male overall race winner in cross-country World Cup history.

He is going to Beijing in great form having won 7 World Cup races this season and comfortably leading in the standings. He is also providing behind the scenes action, on how it is to be an Olympic skier through his youtube channel that he runs with his brother.

Charlotte Bankes (Great Britain, Snowboarding)

The biggest gold medal hope Team GB has in this year’s Winter Olympics. Bankes will be competing in her third Olympic Games but her first for Great Britain as she competed for France on the previous two occasions. British-born, she grew up in France and represented them until 2018.

Since switching sport nationality, Bankes won two World Championship medals, including the gold in 2021 and is currently leading this year’s World Cup rankings with 3 wins to her name. Following her world title last year, she has set her sights on climbing on the top step of the snowboard cross podium in Beijing and has all the skills to do it. 

The Winter Olympics will take place in Beijing from February 4th until February 20th. You can follow all the action on the BBC and Eurosport platforms.

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