One Year To Go: Team GB's Ten to Watch for Beijing 2022

It’s official - with exactly a year to go, we can now start getting seriously excited for the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing.

Team GB is set to send its most diverse and competitive delegation ever to compete on ice and snow in China.

Winter seasons have continued en masse despite COVID-19, and British athletes have been fuelling hope for Beijing with personal best performances.

So, mark your card. Here are ten athletes to keep an eye on in the next year ahead of the 24th Winter Olympiad.

Izzy Atkin - Freestyle skiing

Four years older, four years better. All evidence points to Atkin being an even more complete skier than when she won slopestyle bronze at PyeongChang 2018.

Big Air has been added to the free ski programme for Beijing and the 22-year-old has grown in stature in the event, taking bronze at the 2019 World Championships and a maiden World Cup medal later that year.

The bread and butter of her slopestyle remains in a good place as shown by her X Games silver behind Eileen Gu in Aspen last month.

The two disciplines are complementary and the prospect of Atkin doubling up to take on the likes of Tess Ledeux and Killy Sildaru is a thrilling one.

Charlotte Bankes - Snowboarding

Like Kenworthy, Bankes has taken a long and winding road towards Beijing that started at England’s most famous artificial slope in Hemel Hempstead.

The 25-year-old represented France until 2018, when she considered quitting sport but a move back to Britain and focus on 2022 represented a new lease of life.

With injury troubles behind her, the snowboard cross star made the small final on her return to World Cup action in January and is building nicely towards the Olympics.

James Clugnet - Cross-country skiing

Andrew Musgrave and Andrew Young have broken new ground for Britain in Nordic skiing - and Clugnet represents the next generation.

The sprinter, who grew up in the French Alps with an English mother, finished eighth in December’s World Cup race in Davos, his best-ever result at world level.

Clugnet is getting the best out of the elder statesmen, too. Young has hit the sprinting form of his life this season and says he could have stopped speed training altogether were it not for his younger team-mate.

The pair could be a fearsome proposition in the team sprint freestyle in Beijing.

Amelia Coltman - Skeleton

Britain’s heritage in women’s skeleton needs no introduction having made the podium at every Games and won the last three gold medals.

Coltman is the latest cab off the rank and became the first slider to win the overall European Cup title in her maiden season on the circuit in 2019-20.

The 24-year-old's first three World Cup starts brought learnings and challenges and in January, she underwent foot surgery to fix an issue impeding her speed at push start.

It would be great to see what a refreshed Coltman, with PyeongChang bronze medallist Laura Deas to guide her, could do over four runs in Beijing.

Brad Hall - Bobsleigh

Few winter sports capture the imagine quite like bobsleigh and in Hall, Britain have a world-class pilot ready to take on the world in 2022.

Hall and Greg Cackett pulled off Britain’s best World Cup result in more than decade with a stunning silver in Igls in January 2020.

The former decathlete from Crawley, who also won four-man World Cup bronze in November 2017, has been a fixture in the top ten this season and past his 30th birthday, should be at the peak of his powers next year.

Gus Kenworthy - Freestyle skiing

From Chelmsford to California and back again, wherever Kenworthy goes, good things happen.

Not even his parents - who spent their lives working in film and theatre - could have scripted his life and career so far.

A Sochi slopestyle silver medallist for the USA, Kenworthy switched allegiance to his birth nation in December 2019 and won World Cup gold for Great Britain in early 2020.

Kenworthy is a trailblazer on and off the snow - he was one of the first action sports stars to come out in 2015, and rode 545 miles from San Francisco to Los Angeles to raise over $250,000 for the fight against HIV/AIDS in 2019.

Team Mouat - Curling

We know, we’re cheating - but Bruce Mouat, Grant Hardie, Bobby Lammie and Hammy McMillan Jr come as a package.

At 26, Bruce is a relatively young skip on the world stage but chalked up world bronze and a European title in 2018. He also became the second non-Canadian skip to win a Grand Slam event in 2019.

And to double down on preparations for April’s World Championships and the 2022 Games, he has uprooted from Edinburgh to be close to the National Curling Academy in Stirling. All points to an exciting year ahead.

Katie Ormerod - Snowboarding

Crystal Globes are the holy grail in winter sport and in 2020, Ormerod became the first British female and the first British snowboarding to put one on her mantelpiece.

Reared on the dry slopes at Halifax, the Yorkshire-born ace claimed five slopestyle medals in the 2019-20 season to win the discipline’s overall title.

She is no stranger to making history having become the first female snowboarder to land a double cork 1080 in 2016.

And Ormerod will relish a shot at rewriting her Olympic story having been ruled out on the eve of the 2018 Games with a cruel injury.

Dave Ryding - Alpine Skiing

27th in Vancouver, 17th in Sochi, ninth in PyeongChang. Dave Ryding’s rise is, for many, the story that best encapsulates Britain’s big bang in winter sports.

The Rocket’s second run charges are now stuff of legend and, in his own words, medals come when he least expects it. So why not at the Olympic Games?

His bronze medal in one of the cauldrons of the sport in Adelboden put smiles on faces during lockdown and with Marcel Hirscher stepping off the small skis, this really could be Dave’s year.

James Woods - Freestyle skiing

As a Crystal Globe winner from Yorkshire, Woods has plenty in common with Ormerod.

He has also been driven by Games heartbreak after picking up an injury on the eve of his competition in Sochi in 2014.

Woods became slopestyle world champion in 2019 and finished on the X Games podium, a feat he also managed in 2017 and 2018.

The Sheffield native stepped away from the snow after winning the world title but is back ahead of Beijing and showed his class at the recent renewal of the X Games in Aspen.

Sportsbeat 2021