Five Olympic returnees chasing Beijing gold – JWS

When the 2022 Beijing Games kick off with the opening ceremony on Friday, some of the Winter Olympics’ brightest stars will return.

Here are five to watch as the Games kick off this week:

1. Ester Ledecka

Ester Ledecká made history in 2018 when she became the first athlete to win two gold medals at the same Winter Olympics in two different types of equipment (skis and snowboard). The Czech snowboarder and skier won the super-G in alpine skiing, then took gold in the parallel giant slalom. Just the second woman to win Olympic gold in two separate disciplines, she was also the first to do so at the same Olympics.

Ledecká has continued to alternate between the two sports and remains the most dominant snowboard racer in the world. Since 2018, she has competed in 14 Snowboard World Cup competitions, finishing in the top three 13 times. Although she hasn’t had as much success in skiing, she has still finished in the top 10 of the World Cup standings in 2020 and 2021. Ledecká will be looking to defend her gold medal starting with the parallel giant slalom on Tuesday 8 February. .

2. Chloe Kim

One of PyeongChang’s stars, Chloe Kim is the reigning Olympic halfpipe champion. She became the youngest woman to win an Olympic gold medal in snowboarding when she won the title aged 17 in 2018. Her near-perfect score of 98.25 points in her last run was almost 10 points ahead of second place Liu Jiayu. As if that weren’t enough, she also became the youngest woman to complete two 1080 degree spins in a row at the Olympics.

She took nearly two years out of the sport after her Olympic gold medal run in 2018 to recover from an ankle injury. But since returning in 2021, she has won every competition she has entered, including the 2021 X Games and the 2021 World Championships. In mid-January, she won the halfpipe event at the Laax Open, making her the big favorite in Beijing. She will look to defend her halfpipe medal from Wednesday 9 February.

(Harry Comment/Getty Images)

3. USA Women’s Ice Hockey

In 2018, the United States women’s hockey team won gold for the first time since the 1998 Olympics, beating Canada 3-2 in a shootout in the championship game.

While the Lamoureux sisters have since retired, many of that team’s stars are making a comeback in 2022, including captain Kendall Coyne Schofield and gold medalist goaltender Maddie Rooney. Stars Hilary Knight and Amanda Kessel are also back for what may be their last Olympic Games.

Team USA will look to repeat their gold medal run and avenge their overtime loss to Canada at the 2021 World Championships, starting Thursday against Finland.

4. Mikaela Shiffrin

One of the best skiers in the world, Mikaela Shiffrin is once again aiming for the podium in Beijing. She won gold in slalom at the 2014 Sochi Olympics and followed that up with a gold medal in giant slalom four years later. With 47 slalom World Cup victories, she is the most successful skier in a single alpine discipline in history, male or female.

Heading into her third Olympics, Shiffrin will be looking to medal in all skiing events in Beijing. She had an up and down World Cup season, coming back from a back injury and being diagnosed with COVID-19 as she faced rival Petra Vlhová. But on paper, she’s a multi-medal threat. If she wins more than one medal in Beijing, she will overtake Julia Mancuso as the most decorated American alpine skier. If she wins three, she will tie Bode Miller for the most Olympic medals by an American skier with six.

His first event, the giant slalom, begins on Sunday.

5. Arianna Fontana

Italian short track speed skater Arianna Fontana is heading to her fifth Olympics in Beijing, looking to build on her gold medal in the short track 500m in 2018. With 45 European Championship medals and eight at the Olympics, she is the most decorated female track speed skater in Olympic history.

In PyeongChang, Fontana also won silver in the team event and bronze in the 1000m event, earning her an Olympic medal in each distance contested. She will be looking to add to her medal tally in Beijing and cement her place in history, starting with the 500m heats on Saturday.