Team China’s medal hopefuls to watch at Beijing 2022 

As the Beijing 2022 Games approach, hosts People’s Republic of China will be hoping for strong performances in a number of disciplines. In recent years, the nation has established itself in the world of winter sports, becoming one of the strongest in Asia. Here is a list of top Chinese athletes to keep your eyes on during the upcoming Olympic Winter Games. 

By Qian Sun
Picture by 2020 Getty Images

Eileen Gu - freestyle skiing

Since the 18-year-old skier opted to represent China in 2019, Eileen Gu (Chinese name Gu Ailing) has become a winter sports sensation. She has realistic hopes of winning gold in each of the three disciplines she will compete in at Beijing 2022: halfpipe, slopestyle and big air.

Her legend began at her debut Winter X Games. In January 2021, Gu nabbed two golds (superpipe and slopestyle) and one bronze (big air) in Aspen, USA, winning China’s first gold at the X Games. A month later, she repeated the feat at the 2021 World Championship at the exact same venue. Even a broken hand could not stop her from stepping onto the top of the podium.

Her irrepressible form has continued into the Olympic season, as she brought home her first crystal globe with four halfpipe wins in a row, including a near-perfect performance in Mammoth Mountain. If that wasn't enough, she has also reached World cup Podiums in slopestyle (silver) and big air (gold) this season.

With strong prospects in all three of her events, Gu could possibly become the first Chinese skier in history to win three medals in a single Olympic Winter Games.

XU Mengtao - freestyle skiing

China’s women’s team has won five silver and two bronze medals in freestyle skiing aerials since 1998, but never a gold.

However, 31-year-old Olympic veteran, XU Mengtao is among the favourites for Team China at her home Games. She competed at the past three Olympic Winter Games, winning silver at Sochi 2014.

During the 2021/22 World Cup season, Xu won two golds, one silver and a bronze in the women’s aerials, securing herself top position in the World Cup ranking. With 27 individual World Cup wins to her name, she is the female athlete with the most individual World Cup titles in history. Now she is China’s main hope to win the first-ever Olympic gold medal in women’s aerials.

Thanks to the addition of the freestyle skiing mixed team aerials event, which will make its debut in Beijing this February, Xu has two chances to medal. Team China topped the podium in both events held this season in Ruka, Finland, and Xu was a crucial member of the team.

Chinese aerialist, Xu Mengtao aiming for historic gold

WU Dajing - short track

The 27-year-old Wu Dajing has some four Olympic medals (one gold, two silvers, one bronze) and 12 World Championships medals (four gold, five silvers, three bronzes) under his belt.

At PyeongChang 2018, he won gold in the men’s 500m event, breaking both the world and Olympic records.

Although the start of this Olympic season was challenging, Wu proved that he was still one of the world’s top skaters at the last World Cup stop, winning 500m gold in Doredetch. In doing so, he not only rose to second in the rankings but also secured a spot on China’s short track team for Beijing 2022. As team captain, Wu is determined to defend his title, as well as perform well in the relay competitions that include the new mixed relay.

REN Ziwei - short track

Team China has had no shortage of elite short track speed skaters at the last editions of the Olympic Winter Games. Ren Ziwei may well be the country’s next star.

Although less well-known than compatriot Wu Dajing, the PyeongChang 2018 men’s 5000m relay silver medallist has enjoyed a stellar season, finishing first in the World Cup rankings for the 1500m and third in the 500m.

During the four World Cup stops this season, the 24-year-old Ren won five medals in individual events, including two 1500m golds, one 1000m gold, plus one silver and a bronze in the 500m.

He is also an integral member of the Chinese relay teams, helping them to silver in the men’s 5000m relay in Nagoya and four medals - two gold, one silver and one bronze - in the 2000m mixed relay.

REN Ziwei
Picture by 2017 Getty Images

SUI Wenjing/HAN Cong - figure skating

The Chinese pair SUI Wenjing/HAN Cong has a strong Olympic pedigree, having won the silver medal at PyeongChang 2018. In the World Championships, the athletes have two gold and three silver medals to their names.

They topped the podium in both of the Grand Prix events they competed in this season, and are in fine form heading into their home Games. Can they add Olympic gold to their medal collection this February?

NING Zhongyan - speed skating

The 22-year-old Ning has emerged as one of China’s top gold medal contenders heading into Beijing 2022. During the 2021/22 season, he demonstrated his immense potential in the men’s 1500m, winning one gold and two silvers in the World Cup. Furthermore, he clocked a personal best time of 1:06.656 to win his first World Cup gold in the men's 1000m in Canada.

With his best season behind him, Ning is set to compete in the 1000m, 1500m and team pursuit in Beijing. He has a great chance to shine at home on his Olympic debut.

Ning Zhongyan

GAO Tingyu - speed skating

Together with teammate Ning Zhongyan, 24-year-old Gao will arrive at Beijing 2022 with the hopes of recreating speed skating history.

Gao made his Olympic debut at PyeongChang 2018 and won bronze in the men’s 500m to become the first male Chinese skater to ever win an Olympic medal.

Although injury hampered his 2021/22 season, he remains one of the best skaters in the world, having won one gold and a silver in the 500m during this season’s World Cup tour.

GAO Tingyu

CAI Xuetong - snowboard

As the first Chinese halfpipe snowboarder to win the FIS World Youth Snowboarding Championships at age 16 in 2009, Cai Xuetong is a snowboard pioneer in China.

Over the course of the next 13 years, she went on to land on 27 podiums at 37 World Cups, including 12 wins, and claimed two world championships.

Cai has competed in three Olympic Games but is yet to stand on the Olympic podium. This season, she once again won the crystal globe - the seventh of her career - making her a strong contender for Gold in Beijing.

SU Yiming - snowboard

Su Yiming made history by becoming the first-ever Chinese snowboarder to step onto the World Cup podium in either big air or slopestyle. He is also the first to secure a World Cup big air title.

Su began snowboarding at just four years old and by 14 he had joined the national team, where he has been blazing a trail for the sport ever since.

When he won his big air World Cup title in Copper Mountain, he produced a Cab 1800 trick, becoming the youngest athlete in the world to do so.

The athlete is not only a star on the slopes but also in front of the camera, having acted in a number of movies, including Xu Ke’s The Taking of Tiger Mountain (2014).

SU YIMING

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