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Don’t Miss These Team China Athletes at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics

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With the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games right around the corner, we’re sharing some of our favorite athletes, duos, and groups from Team China to watch in the weeks ahead.

Some are making their Olympic debut, while others are decorated veterans and likely to be medalists this time around.

There is no shortage of talent on Team China this year, and while the country is not as dominant in the Winter Olympics, we’re excited to see what these Chinese athletes are capable of as they compete on home turf.

1. Eileen Gu (Freestyle Skiing)

Born and raised in San Francisco, this 18-year-old skiing star made history when she won two golds in superpipe and a bronze in big air at the X Games 2021 — the first woman to do so in her rookie year. Also, she recently finished the FIS Freestyle Ski World Cup season with a perfect record in the women’s half-pipe event and pocketed her first crystal globe.

Despite being born in the US and holding American citizenship, the young skier is set to compete for China in the upcoming Winter Olympics. She is currently one of the most high-profile athletes in the world.

But Gu is more than just a badass freestyle skier: She was recently admitted to study at her dream school, Stanford University, and she is also a successful fashion model who has appeared on the cover of Vogue magazine and attended Paris Fashion Week.

2. Wu Dajing (Short Track Speed Skating)

Wu Dajing

Image via Depositphotos

Wu Dajing is currently the world’s fastest skater on the 500-meter track. In 2018, he finished the contest in 39.505 seconds at the ISU Short Track Speed Skating World Cup in Salt Lake City, beating his own record from the same year at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.

Speed skating competitions have traditionally been China’s strongest events at the Winter Olympics, and Wu was Team China’s sole gold medalist at the last Winter Games in 2018.

Beyond athletics, the 27-year-old made his on-screen debut in the 2020 TV drama Wait for You In Beijing. 

3. Han Cong & Sui Wenjing (Pair Skating)

Han Cong and Sui Wenjing were still teenagers when they made their first appearance on the Grand Prix circuit in 2010, charming judges and audiences with their big personalities and cheeky sense of humor. Now 29 and 26, respectively, Han and Sui have two World Figure Skating Championship titles to their names — 2017 and 2019 — and remain a crowd favorite for their energy and versatility on the ice.

The Harbin natives have dealt with their fair share of obstacles in the decade-plus since their professional debut, including several debilitating injuries. Sui had double ankle surgery in 2015 and had to relearn to walk before even attempting to skate. And at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics, the pair won silver medals, but Sui suffered another ankle injury, also requiring surgery, and was sidelined for six months.

In 2020, Han went for surgery of his own to correct a hip joint injury. Sui, meanwhile, practiced with veteran Chinese figure skater Zhao Hongbo, who, with his partner and wife Shen Xue, won China’s first Olympic figure skating gold medal at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.

Han and Sui have since been working diligently, with the express goal of winning gold in Beijing. With plenty of experience skating at Beijing’s Capital Indoor Stadium, the outlook is good for the pair this time around.

4. Geng Wenqiang (Skeleton)

Geng Wenqiang

Image via Wikimedia

Born in 1995 in Inner Mongolia, Geng Wenqiang is the first Chinese skeleton racer ever to compete in the Olympics. At the 2018 Games in Pyeongchang, he finished 13th out of 30 competitors. 

Now, in 2022, he already has two medals under his belt: tying for bronze with South Korean Yun Sungbin at La Plagne in 2020 and winning gold in Innsbruck in 2021. The latter was an unprecedented three-way tie for first place, with Geng making history as China’s first International Bobsleigh Federation (IBSF) World Cup winner.

Following the IBSF victory, the 26-year-old told reporters, “I’d like to thank the whole team who have done so much for us over the past few years.”

The skeleton track in Beijing has been dubbed the ‘Flying Snow Dragon for its winding figure and features the first-ever 360-degree loop. With Geng’s performance constantly improving at his professional appearances in recent years, we have high hopes for the trailblazer as he competes with home-ice advantage.

5. Chen Hongyi (Figure Skating)

This will be the first Olympic Games for 19-year-old Chen, who will compete not only in her home country but also in her city of birth. Born and raised in Beijing, Chen fell in love with skating when her parents took her to play on the ice in city parks.

Chen joined China’s national team in 2018 and competed at the World Championships in 2019. The following year, she ranked 11th at the 2020 Four Continents Figure Skating Championships in Seoul, South Korea.

After a strong start on day one of the 2020 Shiseido Cup of China in Chongqing, Chen took home gold with her performance to Xiaoduo Cheng’s “I Have the Strength to Fly.” Indeed, we expect the up-and-comer to continue spreading her wings in future competitions.

Chen is excited to present her culture to people worldwide at her next competitive appearance in Beijing. She noted in an interview that her program for the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics would have a “Chinese style.”

6. Liu Jiayu (Snowboarding)

Liu Jiayu began snowboarding in 2003 at the relatively late age of 11, pivoting from her earlier pursuit of martial arts. The Heilongjiang native, nicknamed ‘Birdie’ by friends and family (perhaps for her ability to soar in the half-pipe), made her Olympic debut in Vancouver in 2010 and finished in fourth place that year in the half-pipe, which happens to be her specialty.

Liu has attended every Winter Games since, placing ninth in the half-pipe event in Sochi and making history in 2018 as China’s first snowboarding Olympic medalist, with a silver medal in Pyeongchang.

During an interview after winning silver, she told a journalist: “This is our sport too. We can snowboard.”

The 29-year-old, who represents Burton Snowboards, marches to the beat of her own drum: She made the somewhat surprising decision to leave China’s national team and instead film and shoot content as a solo athlete.

Nonetheless, she will represent her country on home soil in the coming weeks, and we believe Liu is poised for the podium once again.

7. Su Yiming (Snowboarding)

Representing Burton Snowboards alongside Liu Jiayu, Su Yiming made history last year when he won China its first gold at the International Ski Federation (FIS) Ski and Snowboard World Cup at Steamboat Ski Resort in Colorado.

Su was the first rider ever to complete an 1800-degree rotation (five 360-degree turns) in both directions at a FIS event — in his case, a backside 1800 Indy grab and a frontside 1800 tail grab, according to state-backed outlet CGTN.

After the competition, he told the media, “I still cannot believe this just happened. I’m really hyped to compete along with all the boys. They killed it. I have so much respect for them,” adding, “it feels incredible.”

Like Wu Dajing, Su has also appeared in a film, playing a talented young skier in the 2014 film The Taking of Tiger Mountain (a huge blockbuster success) at only 9 years old. Born in Jilin on February 18, 2004, the 17-year-old is one of the youngest athletes competing for Team China and will celebrate his 18th birthday just days after the final snowboarding event.

And what better way to ring in adulthood than by winning an Olympic medal in your country of birth?

8. Ning Zhongyan (Speed Skating)

Ning Zhongyan joined China’s national speed skating roster in 2018 and placed second at the ISU Speed Skating World Cup in Belarus the following year. He also earned silver in the team sprint at the 2020 World Single Distances Speed Skating Championships in Salt Lake City.

But 2021 was the 22-year-old’s most successful year yet: He came first in the 1,500-meter contest at the World Cup in Stavanger, Norway, and clinched the gold with a personal best time of one minute and 6.656 seconds at the Speed Skating World Cup 1,000-meters last December.

He also took home two World Cup silver medals in 2021, making him the most decorated World Cup speed skating athlete from China that year, with four total medals.

Like many of China’s Winter Olympic athletes, Ning hails from the country’s icy Northeast, in Mudanjiang, Heilongjiang province. We’re excited to see the young athlete perform south of his hometown during the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics.

9. Women’s Curling Team

Screengrab via Youtube

China first debuted a women’s curling team at the Vancouver Olympics in 2010, and the quartet won bronze that same year.

The 2022 team features an entirely new five-person roster headed by 21-year-old skip Han Yu, with teammates Jiang Xindi, Zong Ziqi, Zhang Lijun, and Yan Hui as a backup.

At the 2021 World Championships in Calgary, the group tied for sixth place, beating out the defending Olympic champion team from Sweden and the 2018 bronze medalists from Japan.

With Swedish curler ​​Peja Lindholm on board as coach — believed by some to be the best European skip ever — we have reason to expect the team will shine in 2022.

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Cover image compiled by Haedi Yue

Tian Tian
    Tian Tian is a RADII staff writer based in Shanghai. She has been writing out of love for her whole life and has previously worked for GQ and Dazed. She tries her best to understand different perspectives and absolutely loves music. In fact, she is practicing to perform a piece by John Cage (not 4’33’’) while writing this bio.
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