Homing in on glory

By SUN XIAOCHEN | China Daily | Updated: 2022-01-04 09:27
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Sui Wenjing and Han Cong, pictured competing in Italy in November, are aiming to top the pairs podium at Beijing 2022. [Photo/XINHUA]

Freestyle phenoms

On the snow, China has good reason to believe Beijing 2022 will be its best Winter Games yet thanks to the rise of a new breed of stylish competitors.

Freestyle skier Gu Ailing, men's snowboard big air prodigy Su Yiming and the veteran halfpipe combo of Liu Jiayu and Cai Xuetong are among the stars to watch in Beijing's co-host Zhangjiakou, Hebei province, where the majority of the Games' snow sports will be staged.

All-rounder Gu has shone throughout the International Ski Federation's World Cup series, with stunning big air and halfpipe victories suggesting she will grab the limelight at the Games.

Born in California to a Chinese mother and American father, Gu, known as Eileen in the States, is a favorite for Olympic halfpipe gold following consecutive wins last month at Copper Mountain, Colorado-first in the World Cup series and then the Dew Tour.

Also competing in halfpipe, snowboarders Liu and Cai look in great shape heading into their fourth Olympics.

"As a veteran of the sport in China, I feel like we need to lead by example and inspire younger talent to pursue their own career goals, so I will try my utmost for a new breakthrough in Beijing," said Liu, who finished second behind American Chloe Kim to earn China's first Olympic snowboard medal in 2018.

And while China remains off the medal pace in alpine skiing, cross-country skiing and biathlon, those national programs are making breakthroughs as they bid to qualify as many athletes as possible for the Beijing Games.

Before winning the hosting rights in 2015, China had only participated in a third of events at the Winter Olympics, yet now is close to fulfilling its goal of competing in all 109 medal events at the Beijing Games.

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