With just one year to go to the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022, the excitement is growing among winter sports athletes and fans from around the world.
From 4–20 February 2022, the best winter athletes will gather in the Chinese capital as well as Zhangjiakou to compete for 109 gold medals.
Here are the top things you need to know as we count down towards the next Winter Games.
Sports events at Beijing 2022
Events will be held in 15 disciplines across seven sports at the Beijing 2022 Games: in biathlon, bobsleigh (including skeleton), curling, ice hockey, luge, skating (including figure skating, short track, and speed skating), and skiing (including alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, freestyle skiing, Nordic combined, ski jumping, and snowboard).
There are 109 sets of medals to be awarded, seven more than there were at PyeongChang 2018. New events will be contested in bobsleigh, short track, freestyle skiing, ski jumping, and snowboard.
These will include the first Olympic women’s monobob (one-person bobsleigh) at the senior level after its success at the Lillehammer 2016 and Lausanne 2020 Winter Youth Olympic Games. Also being introduced are men’s and women’s freestyle skiing big air, mixed team freestyle skiing aerials, mixed team ski jumping, snowboard cross mixed team relay, and short track mixed relay.
The Beijing Games will be the most gender-balanced Winter Games in Olympic history, with the quota of women increasing from 41 per cent in PyeongChang to over 45 per cent.
The stars to watch at Beijing 2022
Expect all the stars to be out in force as could be expected from an Olympic Games. For hosts China, their big hopes will rest with freestyle skier Gu Ailing Eileen, a three-time winner on the FIS Freeski World Cup and double Youth Olympic champion in Lausanne, and their impressive short track team led by men’s 500m world record holder and defending Olympic champion Wu Dajing.
In biathlon, Norwegian standout and defending 20 km champion Johannes Thingnes Boe will look to step into the shoes of his now-retired French rival and biathlon legend Martin Fourcade, a five-time Olympic champion.
After an absence from the Games last time out in PyeongChang, National Hockey League players are expected to return in Beijing as part of an agreement reached between the league and its players’ association. While a final decision on NHL players’ participation has yet to be agreed with the International Ice Hockey Federation and IOC, having the world’s best players on the ice is sure to capture the imagination as Canada attempt to win the men’s Olympic title back, while the U.S. seek their first crown since 1980.
Figure skating will once again be one of the most hotly-followed competitions around the world as Hanyu Yuzuru looks for a third consecutive men’s singles title, a feat not achieved since 1928. He will be closely pushed by Nathan Chen, the double world champion.
Mikaela Shiffrin remains among the best of the alpine skiers who we can expect to see in Beijing. The American, who continues her chase of Ingemar Stenmark’s all-time World Cup record of 86 wins, is already a two-time champion from Sochi and PyeongChang, and will want to add more Olympic metal to her collection.
And Shiffrin's fellow American Chloe Kim, the youngest Olympic snowboard champion when she won in Korea in 2018, will be back for another go on the halfpipe.
Beijing 2022 Olympic venues
While Beijing will act as the host city of the Games, competition will actually take place in three different clusters: one in Beijing itself, one in Yanqing to the northwest of the capital, and one in Zhangjiakou, around 200 km away from Beijing but reachable in an hour via high-speed train.
The Opening Ceremony and Closing Ceremony will both take place at the National Stadium, also known as the Bird’s Nest Stadium, which was the main Olympic stadium used for the Beijing 2008 Olympics. All events on ice will be held in the Beijing Cluster, including 2008 venues like the National Aquatics Centre (Water Cube) being repurposed for curling, the Capital Indoor Stadium for figure skating and short track, and the National Indoor Stadium and Wukesong Arena for ice hockey.
Speed skating will take place at the newly-constructed National Speed Skating Oval, while big air competitions in snowboard and freeski will be held at a temporary venue just west of downtown Beijing.
Alpine skiing and the sliding events are expected to be held in Yanqing’s Xiaohaituo mountain area, while the other snow-based events will take place in Zhangjiakou, in Hebei Province.
Beijing 2022 schedule
The Opening Ceremony is scheduled to take place on 4 February 2022, with the closing ceremony on 20 February 2022. Competition will begin two days before the Opening Ceremony with preliminaries in curling.
Beijing 2022 Olympic mascot and emblem
A giant panda named Bing Dwen Dwen (冰墩墩) is the official mascot of the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games.
“Bing” means ice and also symbolises purity and strength, and “Dwen Dwen” represents children. The mascot embodies the strength and willpower of athletes and will help to promote the Olympic spirit.
The Games emblem is based on the Chinese character for winter, 冬. It is meant to resemble a skater at the top and a skier at the bottom, with China’s rolling mountains, Olympic venues, ski pistes and skating rinks in the middle.