Home » Beijing 2022: How has Covid-19 affected GB’s winter sport athletes?

Beijing 2022: How has Covid-19 affected GB’s winter sport athletes?

by newsking24

Since the coronavirus pandemic reared its ugly head in early 2020, the eyes of the sporting world have been on the Tokyo Olympics.

But lower than six months after the re-arranged Games are as a consequence of end subsequent August, one other Olympics will happen – the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing.

Little consideration has been paid to winter sports activities athletes who noticed their seasons minimize quick within the spring due to the worldwide pandemic.

New seasons are beginning however there have been measures put in place to restrict the unfold of Covid-19, together with occasion cancellations, venue closures, and international journey restrictions in main sports activities.

BBC Sport has taken a have a look at GB’s key Olympic winter sports activities to have a look at the influence on preparations for the 2020-21 marketing campaign – which is a crucial Winter Olympic qualifying interval.

Skiing and snowboarding

Fortunately for GB’s skiers and snowboarders, the winter season had, or nearly had, completed when the pandemic struck, however UK-based athletes needed to get artistic with their low season coaching, with gyms in garages and ramps in gardens.

Some of these based mostly overseas have been lucky sufficient to have the ability to proceed to coach all through the primary lockdown, together with the cross nation group who’re in Norway and different athletes based mostly in France and Switzerland who managed to proceed to coach on the glaciers.

Those UK-based athletes have been the final to return to the snow in August when many headed to Europe for pre-season coaching camps.

Since then, some have already returned to competitors. Alpine skier Alex Tilley bought her World Cup marketing campaign underneath manner in Soelden in Austria in October however competitors throughout most different disciplines kicks off this weekend.

The Alpine snowboarding World Cup tour is not going to journey to North America this season whereas quite a few pace and technical occasions have been divided to cut back the variety of members at venues.

Others will journey stateside although, together with freestyle skiers, whereas many will go east to the Snowboard, Freestyle and Freeski World Championships in China subsequent February.

GB Snowsport says it “wouldn’t be surprised” if large occasions, comparable to World Cups, have been cancelled, however are carrying on as if “all competitions are going to happen”.

However, some have already bitten the mud, together with a ski and snowboard large air World Cup in China, whereas the cross-country, Nordic mixed and ski leaping World Cups deliberate for Lillehammer subsequent month have been postponed.

Though athletes have missed plenty of important on-snow coaching, GB head coach Pat Sharples says they’ve tailored “incredibly well”.

“We have to be very adaptable anyway coming from the UK and competing in snowsports. Nothing is ever that straight forward for us,” he mentioned.

Bobsleigh and skeleton

Both the brand new skeleton and two-man/girl bobsleigh World Cup seasons will get underneath manner on Friday with back-to-back races in Sigulda, Latvia, earlier than an extra double header in Innsbruck, Austria, in December.

The first four-man bobsleigh World Cup will happen in January in Winterberg, Germany, as Sigulda doesn’t host four-man occasions and the IBSF determined to solely have two-man races in Innsbruck with a purpose to “keep the number of participants to a minimum for the first half of the World Cup season”.

Races in North America is not going to happen this season due to quarantine and journey restrictions, whereas US athletes will solely be allowed to compete from January.

As a consequence, February’s skeleton and bobsleigh World Championships have been moved from Lake Placid, USA, to Altenberg in Germany.

The solely top-tier race happening exterior of Europe would be the World Cup season finale in Beijing in March, which may even double up as a take a look at occasion for the 2022 Winter Olympics.

Both GB’s skeleton and bobsleigh athletes have been in a position to return to coaching at their Bath base in mid-June, that means Olympic skeleton bronze medallist Laura Deas might get again to pushing her sled as a substitute of her automobile.

Short-track pace skating and determine skating

Preparations for the 2020-21 season have been extremely disrupted for Britain’s skaters by the extended closure of ice rinks across the UK.

While British Ice Skating managed to get entry to 1 rink for the efficiency determine skating squad from June, the short-track group couldn’t return to the ice till September as they’ll solely practice in Nottingham.

Access to rinks has once more been affected by the second lockdown in England, with solely a choose few in a position to open only for elite skaters.

The greatest concern dealing with skaters, nonetheless, is funding. With neither determine skating nor short-track funded by UK Sport, many skaters depend on revenue from teaching – which they’ve been unable to do through the pandemic – to assist fund their very own careers.

As for upcoming competitions, they’re few and much between. In August, British Ice Skating took the “extremely hard” choice to cancel this winter’s British Championships.

At the elite degree, all quick observe World Cups have been cancelled for the rest of 2020 whereas the European Short Track Championships, as a consequence of happen in Gdansk, Poland, in January, have already been postponed by per week.

As for GB’s determine skaters, the main target is for January’s European Championships in Zagreb and the World Championships in Stockholm in March, that are each presently scheduled to go forward as deliberate.

Lilah Jo Fear and Lewis Gibson
Britain’s Lilah Jo Fear and Lewis Gibson – who completed fifth within the ice dance on the 2020 European Figure Skating Championships – are based mostly in Canada and have been in a position to practice all through the pandemic

Curling

Britain’s curlers needed to get artistic with their coaching strategies when lockdown arrived. While some had in depth house gymnasium tools, others used textbooks in rucksacks or farm tyres to maintain in form.

For the curlers that sweep, a family broom or curling broom on a wood kitchen flooring grew to become a part of their every day coaching programme.

They returned to the ice in August, one month later than regular, however a return to high-level competitors stays a way off.

Curling was affected by the coronavirus pandemic even earlier than the UK went into lockdown, with the cancellation of the lads’s, ladies’s and combined doubles World Championships in March. The males’s worlds had been as a consequence of happen in Glasgow.

An extra blow was dealt when the World Curling Federation introduced the cancellation of the European Curling Championships – as a consequence of happen in Lillehammer, Norway, this month – due to the “complications involved with international travel” attributable to the virus’ unfold.

All of the game’s Grand Slams – equal to golf’s majors – have been cancelled whereas different occasions have been dominated out due to journey and quarantine restrictions.

As it stands, their first main competitors is prone to be subsequent 12 months’s males’s, ladies’s and combined doubles World Championships, which occur throughout March and April.

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