Team GB ones to watch at Winter Olympics: Beijing 2022 medal hopefuls - from Brad Hall to Kirsty Muir

The action is underway in China.

The 2022 Winter Olympics has begun in Beijing, with athletes from across the globe competing for medal glory and an opportunity to write their names into the history books.

Great Britain have sent a team of 50 competitors to this year’s games - 27 men and 23 women - with curler Eve Muirhead and alpine skier Dave Ryding acting as flagbearers during the opening ceremony.

The aim will be to surpass the tally of five medals that Team GB picked up in Pyeongchang four years ago, with Lizzy Yarnold bringing home a gold in the Skeleton, alongside bronzes for Dominic Parsons and Laura Deas (both Skeleton), Izzy Atkin (Freestyle Skiing), and Billy Morgan (Snowboarding).

But who are the talents that Britain will be pinning their hopes on this time around?

We’ve picked out a few Team GB hopefuls to keep an eye on over the course of the games...

Women’s Curling Team

Skippered by opening ceremony flagbearer Even Muirhead, the women’s curling team will be hopeful of emulating - or even surpassing - the bronze medal they picked up at Sochi in 2014.

Among their ranks they count Vicky Wright, a surgical ward nurse at Forth Valley Hospital in Larbert, Scotland, who has worked on the frontline of the NHS throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

Jennifer Dodds, Hailey Duff, and Mili Smith make up the rest of the squad.

Brad Hall - Bobsleigh

Having overcome positive Covid tests, injuries, and funding issues, Hall heads into his second Olympics hoping to perform a minor miracle in the Bobsleigh.

Undoubtedly an underdog, the 31-year-old will be pitting his wits against German juggernaut Francesco Friedrich.

Of the 16 World Cup races the pair have competed against each other in this year, Freidrich has won 14, but Hall still boasts six podiums and finished fourth in the end-of-season four-man bob standings.

Can he go one better and bag himself a medal in Beijing?

Katie Ormerod - Snowboarding

The kind of superhuman story that makes the Olympics such an awe-inspiring exhibition of will, Ormerod essentially had to learn to walk again following a horror crash in the buildup to the 2018 games.

After seven operations, a full year of rehab, and 18 months of waiting, however, the Yorkshire native returned to the slopes in eye-catching style, becoming the first Briton to win a slopestyle World Cup title in 2020.

Kirsty Muir - Freestyle Skiing

Still only 17, Muir is one of the most precocious athletes in Team GB’s Beijing contingent.

A silver medallist at the 2020 Winter Youth Olympics, the youngster from Aberdeen will be eager to replicate that kind of success at her first senior games.

Great Britain’s youngest competitor in China, but certainly one of their brightest medal hopes too, with coach Lesley McKenna hailing the teenager as a “once in a generation talent”.

Laura Deas - Skeleton

After a relatively surprising bronze medal four years ago, Deas heads into Beijing as one of Team GB’s biggest medal hopes.

The 33-year-old also holds the honour of being the first ever Welsh woman to win a Winter Olympics medal, and will be hoping to add to her collection this time around.

Dave Ryding - Alpine Skiing

Ryding made history last month as he became the first British skier to win an alpine World Cup gold medal.

Since that triumph, the 35-year-old has established himself as a serious medal contender in Beijing, and will definitely be one to watch.

Bruce Mouat and Jennifer Dodds - Mixed Curling Doubles

Despite having never played together at a major international event before, Mouat and Dodds were crowned world champions at last year’s tournament, and will be hoping to secure more gold in Beijing.

The pair have been friends since childhood, and Mouat will also be skippering the men’s curling team.

Ellia Smeding and Cornelius Kersten - Speed Skating

Another great Olympic story, Smeding and Kersten helped to fund their Beijing dream by setting up a coffee business together.

With both having qualified, the push for a medal can now begin in earnest, and with 42 career golds to her name, Smeding - who spent much of her childhood in the Netherlands - could be a particularly promising medal hope.

Charlotte Bankes - Snowboarding

Having previously represented France at two Olympics, Bankes will compete as part of Team GB for the first time in Beijing.

The 26-year-old was born in Hemel Hempstead but moved to France aged four, and has been touted as one of Britain’s best medal hopes after picking up World Championship in the highly-entertaining snowboard-cross event earlier in the year.

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