Winter Olympics 2022: 10 reasons to watch Beijing Games

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Just six months on and the Olympics show is back on the road with its winter edition. 

It’s rare for two Games to be so close together as the hotter climes of Tokyo have been replaced by Beijing’s cold temperatures and makeshift snow. 

China’s £2.5billion event is coming into view and although rising Covid cases continue to threaten the much-anticipated Games, the final touches are being made.

Here, Sportsmail takes a look at the reasons why fans should be excited about February’s instalment. 

Just six months on and the Olympics show is back on the road with its winter edition, in Beijing

Just six months on and the Olympics show is back on the road with its winter edition, in Beijing

More events than ever before

The Winter Olympics takes sport to a whole new level with the most extreme and dangerous competitions. 

And this time there are seven more events to get to know, try to understand and ultimately watch in awe and marvel at the sheer skill.

The schedule, running from February 4 to February 20, will now include women’s monobob, freestyle skiing big air, short track speed skating mixed relay, plus mixed team events in ski jumping mixed team, freestyle skiing aerials and snowboard cross.

There will be seven new events next month, including short track speed skating mixed relay

There will be seven new events next month, including short track speed skating mixed relay

Female athletes now have the chance to compete alone in the bobsleigh while a mixed relay event in short track speed skating promises to be the perfect cocktail of chaos and thrill.

The programme features alpine skiing, biathlon, bobsleigh, cross-country skiing, curling, figure skating, freestyle skiing, ice hockey, luge, nordic combined, short track speed skating, skeleton, ski jumping, snowboard and speed skating. 

Most gender-balanced Games

The addition of seven more events makes this year’s Games the most gender-balanced Winter Games of all time.

The new disciplines will see the percentage of female athletes increase to 45.44 per cent.

This comes after Tokyo’s Summer Olympics last year were the most gender equal with 48.8 per cent of the athletes competing women.

Freestyle skier Eileen Gu, British snowboarder Katie Ormerod (see below) as well as short track speed skater Suzanne Schulting are just a few of the names who could steal the headlines next month. 

British snowboarder Katie Ormerod is set to make her Olympic debut

British snowboarder Katie Ormerod is set to make her Olympic debut 

Katie Ormerod is back

The 24-year-old will be keen to make up for lost time. The Team GB snowboarder suffered a career-threatening injury that stopped her from competing in Pyeongchang four years ago.

Ormerod was regarded as the most promising British medal prospect following her success at the World Cup and X-Games but her Olympics were over before it had even begun.

She broke her heel in two the night before the competition was due to start. Ormerod previously snapped her anterior cruciate knee ligament, damaged the meniscus in both knees, fractured her shoulder and both arms, as well as her back.

The Halifax star underwent seven operations, a skin graft and almost two years of gruelling rehab before she returned to action.

Ormerod is finally set for the main stage.

Beijing makes history

The Chinese city is the first ever to have hosted both the Summer and Winter Olympic Games after the 2008 event.

The summer edition 14 years ago was the first time China had held the Olympics and it was quite the spectacle.

Beijing doesn’t seem to be the most obvious location for a winter sports extravaganza but cash has been splashed with all eyes on the city for a fortnight.

The spectacular Bird’s Nest national stadium will be the backdrop for the opening and closing ceremonies once more. 

The spectacular Bird's Nest national stadium will be the backdrop for the ceremonies again

The spectacular Bird’s Nest national stadium will be the backdrop for the ceremonies again

Non-stop action

Just like last summer in Tokyo the time difference is great for UK viewers as we can wake up to fierce competitive action.

Beijing is eight hours ahead, meaning some of the medals will be decided around lunchtime. 

And for those struggling to sleep… the preliminary rounds of events will be taking place in the early hours of the morning in the UK.

There will be non-stop action on a daily basis for two weeks and let’s face it there’s not an awful lot else going on during dark and cold February weekdays in Britain. 

For the fans who suffered watching England’s abysmal efforts Down Under, the Winter Olympics is a much more uplifting prospect. 

The opportunity to watch wall-to-wall incredible sport is here and the Olympics have that feelgood factor.

Figure skating duel

The ice rink is usually the setting for hard-fought and ferocious tussles in the shape of ice hockey clashes but it’s set to be the scene of an epic battle between two figure skaters.

Two-time Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu is targeting his third title in a row and if successful will become the first to win three successive Olympic titles in 94 years.

The Japanese star’s main rival is three-time world champion Nathan Chen of the USA, who has come out on top on the global stage three times in the last four years.

Chen claimed the bronze medal in the figure skating team event in Pyeongchang but is looking to go two better in the individual contest this time around. 

Three-time world champion Nathan Chen

Two-time Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu

Three-time world champion Nathan Chen (left) is up against two-time Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu (right) on the ice

Pressure is on

The host city is always under pressure to deliver to beat or at least match the Games held four years before. 

The amount of money invested and the upheaval of the whole event combined with the level of scrutiny ramps the heat up.

And Beijing will be under the microscope with little snow about. Organisers will use 49 million gallons of water for 300 snow guns to create artificial snow.

Organisers will use 49 million gallons of water for 300 snow guns to create artificial snow

 Organisers will use 49 million gallons of water for 300 snow guns to create artificial snow

A ski centre near the city had just 2cm of snow – less than London – between January and March in 2021.

It’s the not the first time the Winter Olympics have been held in a destination with such a pivotal component lacking. Eighty per cent of the snow at the 2014 Sochi Games was fake. 

‘The snow is going to be similar to Russia and similar to PyeongChang in the 2018 Olympics. They both had artificial snow in parts,’ GB’s snowboard cross racer Charlotte Bankes said.

‘As riders we need to adapt, but we have all been on it before.’

No Winter Olympics Games host wants headlines criticising its quality of snow.

Crazy sports

The Olympics give fans the chance to see sports that are rarely ever seen. Last year’s summer extravaganza saw unusual sports like skateboarding and climbing appear on our screens. 

But the winter version raises the stakes a bit more with athletes literally risking their lives for glory.

The skeleton (pictured) and luge are exhilarating sports with athletes risking their lives

The skeleton (pictured) and luge are exhilarating sports with athletes risking their lives 

Skiing, snowboarding and skating are all ridiculously fast-paced but the skeleton and luge are just mad. 

Hurtling down an ice chute with heads and feet barely off the ground on a tea tray-like sled at around 80-90mph cannot be missed.

Team GB seem to have a knack for the skeleton as well! 

Expert analysis

That takes things nicely on to the expertise fans will get from Britain’s greatest ever Winter Olympian Lizzy Yarnold.

The double Olympic gold medallist will give insight into bobsleigh, skeleton and the luge from the BBC’s home in Salford throughout the Games.

Yarnold was victorious in the skeleton in Russia in 2014 and then defended her title four years later in South Korea.

The 33-year-old will be part of the BBC’s 300 hour-plus live coverage on two of their channels. 

Having been there, done it and got the t-shirt (and the medal), Yarnold’s insight will be priceless.

Tales of the unexpected 

Speaking of t-shirts… the Winter Olympics always throws up something with Tonga’s shirtless skier one of the many unexpected tales.

Pita Taufatofua went viral when he went shirtless at the opening ceremony of the Rio Summer Olympics in 2016.

The cross-country skier became an online sensation again by sporting his trademark look in freezing temperatures at PyeongChang’s closing ceremony four years ago, and then again in Tokyo.

Skier Pita Taufatofua went shirtless at PyeongChang's closing ceremony four years ago

Skier Pita Taufatofua went shirtless at PyeongChang’s closing ceremony four years ago

Meanwhile, it is 34 years since Eddie ‘the Eagle’ Edwards became the first person to represent Great Britain at ski jumping at the Olympics.

Edwards competed against the odds after self-funding it all and working as a plasterer. He came last in the 70m and 90m events but his story inspired.   

At the same Games in 1988 the Jamaican bobsled team, who inspired the Cool Runnings film, captured hearts of fans around the world by making their Olympic debut in Calgary.

So, it begs the question… what’ll be next?

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