(220129) -- BEIJING, Jan. 29, 2022 (Xinhua) -- Photo taken on Jan. 29, 2022 shows the decorative installations with the theme of 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics at a square in Yanqing District of Beijing, capital of China. (Xinhua/Ren Chao)

Top eight athletes to watch at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics

With the 2022 Winter Olympics opening on February 4, Xinhua has picked eight star athletes to watch at the Beijing Games:

  Short-track speed skating: Wu Dajing, China

   As China’s most famous active Winter Olympian, Wu is the first Chinese male skater to win an Olympic gold medal in short track following his victory in the 500m at the 2018 Winter Games in PyeongChang, and currently holds the men’s 500m world record with a time of 39.505 seconds.

  Figure skating: Yuzuru Hanyu, Japan

  Nicknamed Ice Prince, the 27-year-old Japanese skater is a two-time Olympic champion (2014, 2018), two-time world champion (2014, 2017), and has broken 19 scoring records (the most in singles since the new ISU judging system was introduced in 2004). He is also the first skater to perform a clean quadruple loop jump in competition.

  Alpine skiing: Mikaela Shiffrin, United States

  Shiffrin won her first Olympic title at Sochi 2014, becoming the youngest slalom champion in Olympic history at 18 and her second Olympic gold in giant slalom came at PyeongChang 2018. In 2017, she became the first woman in 78 years to win three consecutive slalom world titles.

  Freestyle skiing: Gu Ailing, China

   As a rising star of freestyle skiing, Gu represented China internationally at the 2020 Winter Youth Olympic Games in Lausanne winning two gold medals in Big Air and halfpipe. In 2021, she made the podium in three events at the X Games – winning the superpipe and slopestyle and taking third in Big Air – a feat no other rookie has accomplished in the event’s 25-year history.

  Snowboarding: Shaun White, United States

  Shaun White is the best known snowboarder in the world, winning multiple titles including halfpipe Olympic gold medals at Turin 2006, Vancouver 2010 and PyeongChang 2018. White has also been a mainstay at the Winter X Games, where he won an astonishing 13 titles in superpipe and slopestyle events.

  Ski jumping: Kamil Stoch, Poland


 Three-time Olympic champion Stoch became the third man to win both individual ski jumping events at one Olympic Winter Games in Sochi 2014, after Finland’s Matti Nykanen (1988) and Switzerland’s Simon Ammann (2002, 2010). At PyeongChang 2018, he won individual gold in the large hill and took a bronze medal in the team discipline.


 Ice hockey: Eric Staal, Canada

  Despite the absence of National Hockey League (NHL) players, the men’s competition will still see some big names and familiar faces, as NHL veteran and 2010 Vancouver gold medalist Eric Staal leads Canada’s Olympic roster. Having scored 441 goals and 593 assists in his 17-season NHL career, the 37-year-old, who won the Stanley Cup in 2006 and the World Championships with Canada in 2007, will provide more experience up front.

  Nordic Combined: Eric Frenzel, Germany

  With six Olympic medals in hand, including three golds, Eric Frenzel is probably the best Nordic Combined athlete of this decade. Making the podium in all three events at Pyeongchang – gold in the individual normal hill/10km and team event, bronze in the individual large hill/10km – the 33-year-old has a good chance to defend his title in individual normal hill/10km for the second time to become the sport’s most successful Olympian ever.