Team GB at PyeongChang 2018
Team GB have selected their biggest ever squad for the Winter Olympics that begin on Friday, with no less than 59 athletes announced as the British Olympic Association (BOA) target a record five medals in PyeongChang, South Korea. Team GB will be looking to surpass their best-ever return of four medals – achieved both in Chamonix in 1924 and four years ago in Sochi – for the games, which run until 25th February.
Despite five medals being the target, the BOA will quietly be aiming for more than that, with high hopes resting on the shoulders of several athletes. World champion speed skater Elise Christie, who flew out with the first group of Team GB competitors in January, is one individual whom the BOA will hope can deliver. The reigning Olympic skeleton champion Lizzy Yarnold will also be expected to come home with gold.
The size of the ski and snowboarding team has attracted a fair amount of media attention, with 25 athletes competing across alpine, cross country and freestyle skiing, as well as snowboarding. Unsurprisingly, this number of entrants is also a record.
Perhaps the biggest hope of a medal from this group is in the ski slopestyle, with four-time World Cup winner James Woods (who came fifth in Sochi), a favourite in the men’s event. In the women’s, Katie Summerhayes and Izzy Atkin, who’ve both reached podium positions in previous World Cups, are perhaps in with a chance of bringing home a medal. Great Britain have yet to win any medal in skiing, and PyeongChang surely represents the best opportunity yet.
Katie Ormerod also has a good medal chance, particularly in big air, having made it to the podium in half of her World Cup appearances. Interestingly, the ski and snowboard team are strikingly young, with an average age of just 24. This bodes well for the future, and in the long-run PyeongChang could end up being a big stepping stone for British snowsports.
The curling teams have won four medals at the games, including silver and bronze at the last finals in Sochi, and they’ll be looking to add to that tally in Pyeongchang. Furthermore, Eve Muirhead’s team won bronze at the last World Championships and gold at the European Championships, while the men’s team, captained by Kyle Smith, came second and secured bronze at the European Championships.
Elsewhere, there can be some hope for glory in slalom, with Dave Ryding coming second in the Kitzbuhel World Cup last year, and also possibly in bobsleigh, as the men’s team have recently enjoyed some notable podium finishes.
With over £32m having been ploughed into Team GB in preparation for the PyeongChang games, the BOA will certainly be hoping for a return on that investment, which is over double that of the amount provided for the Sochi 2014 campaign. The opening ceremony will kick things off on Thursday, with coverage coming via both the BBC and Europsort for the duration of the two-week long competition.