The reigning snowboard cross world champion, Charlotte Bankes, and Sochi 2014 freestyle skiing silver medallist, Gus Kenworthy, are the headline acts in a 21-strong squad of skiers and snowboarders who are aiming to help Team GB achieve their greatest Winter Olympics result next month.
Bankes, who has been in sensational form this season, will be competing at her third Games – but her first for Britain. The 26-year-old was born in Hemel Hempstead before moving to the Alps as a four-year-old, was part of France’s team in 2014 and 2018 and is considered Britain’s best chance of a gold medal in Beijing.
Meanwhile Kenworthy, who represented the USA in 2014 and 2018, also has a shot if he can return to the form that made him an eight-time world champion.
Several other of the GB Snowsport team, announced on Friday, also have genuine shots of making the podium – including Zoe Atkin, Kirsty Muir and James Woods in the freestyle skiing, and snowboarder Katie Ormerod – as Team GB seek to beat their record of five medals at a Winter Olympics.
Ormerod’s selection is particularly noteworthy given the nightmare she endured in Pyeongchang four years ago where she split her heel in two while training before the Games. Her injury was so serious it took medics an hour to cut her boot off and her recovery involved seven operations and a year of rehab.
“The fact that I’m even here now qualifying for another Olympic Games feels really amazing to me, because it has been a really difficult journey,” admitted Ormerod. “At one point I just wanted to be able to walk again. But I’ve worked extremely hard over the last four years to be in this position now where I’m confidently going into my second Games.”
“I definitely think we have a team capable of getting medals,” she added. “Especially Kirsty, James and Charlotte.”
Nine ski and snowboard athletes have been selected for Team GB for the first time, while alpine skier, Dave Ryding, and nordic skiers Andrew Musgrave and Andrew Young are each set to appear in their fourth Olympic Winter Games.
“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,” said Ryding. “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.”
That message was echoed by Team GB’s chef de mission Georgie Harland, who expects that 50 Team GB athletes in total will go to the Winter Olympics
“It is great to see representation across more disciplines than we have taken to a Games before and an equally fantastic mix of both youth and experience as we welcome nine Olympic debutants to the team,” she added. “The squad has proved themselves to be extremely competitive on the world stage over the past few seasons and I look forward to seeing them perform on the Olympic stage in just a couple weeks’ time.”