Winter Olympics 2022 Skiing - What to Look Out For
The 2022 Winter Olympics are here! Ski Expert Theo G. overviews the skiers to watch and the must-see events so you can stay on top of your Olympic viewing.
I wasn’t quite up yet, but while I slept, the Opening Ceremony of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics aired here in Utah at 4:30 AM. Believe it or not, I’m not on the ground in China (maybe in 2026, Curated?). I’ll just have to catch a replay—I still have fond memories of the spectacular ceremony in Beijing 2008.
The action in the skiing events is already underway, with men’s and women’s mogul qualifying rounds the last few days. The mogul finals will feature some of the first medals awarded in Beijing and can be caught live bright and early Saturday morning or on Primetime replay that evening.
Check out my guide to the downhill skiing events for more context on each individual event and the rules, equipment, and intricacies of the various subdisciplines!
Despite the swift pace of the event schedule already in motion, this year feels a bit different. It’s hard to believe, but the 2022 Beijing Winter Games are actually right on schedule. They might feel delayed in some way, or perhaps too early, most likely because the postponement of Tokyo 2020 has distorted the calendar.
I also find that extraordinarily strict public health measures in place for the Games make them feel borderline anachronistic; a return to the early days of the pandemic. Event crowds will be limited or non-existent, and many live sportscasters who would usually be making the trip will be broadcasting from studios in the U.S.
In addition, the hosting stage could hardly be more convoluted and imperfect. Though Beijing 2008 was not without controversy, in the public eye those games represented the coming-out party for a new superpower faced with some growing pains. Not so with Beijing 2022: the IOC selected the sole bid available. Furthermore, the natural environment of northern China isn’t prime for snow sliding—it’s plenty cold, but very little precipitation falls naturally. The vast majority of snow you see at the games will be man-made.
- Big Air Shougang: The world’s first permanent open-air big air jump and stadium built in the city of Beijing. The complex will provide a unique venue and viewing experience for the event’s first iteration.
- Yanqing: This mountainous suburb, about 45 miles northwest of Beijing central, will host the Alpine ski races at the National Alpine Ski Center.
- Zhangjiakou: The rest of the Games’ skiing events (including nordic and freestyle) will be held in this city about 100 miles from Beijing. These mountains are the first elevation on the border of the Mongolian desert, and there remain significant worries about the effects of wind and sand on snow conditions.
Who to Look Out For
State of the U.S. Ski Team
The U.S. had a somewhat disappointing Pyeongchang 2018, earning just three medals in alpine skiing, down from five in Sochi. Mikaela Shiffrin earned gold in giant slalom and silver in combined, and a bronze in downhill came courtesy of a now-retired Lindsey Vonn.
Though Shiffrin put in a laudable performance and earned two medals, it was a shock for her to not only fail to defend her gold medal performance in slalom, but to fail to medal at all. Shiffrin finished fourth after a rough first run, missing the chance to make her mark in her signature event on the biggest stage.
Shiffrin is a technical event skier, finishing second on the World Cup in both slalom and giant slalom in the World Cup standings last season. She’ll be looking for strong finishes in both events, as well as the combined, where she medaled in Pyeongchang. Shiffrin is entering all five events, and if all goes according to plan, she might break a few U.S. skiing records along the way. She looks to have a good shot—she’s leading the overall World Cup standing going into the Olympics.
Rounding out the technical events, River Radamus, an Olympic first-timer, is in the top ten of the World Cup GS standings and could pull out an impressive result in Beijing.
The U.S. has several promising hopes in the speed events of downhill and super-G, though the recent loss of Breezy Johnson, a favorite in the speed events, to a knee injury is a massive blow. Vermonter and Ryan Cochran-Siegle will carry the torch, so to speak, for the U.S. hopes in downhill and super-G, and on the men’s side in general. Cochran-Siegle made waves a year ago with a World Cup super-G win, the first for an American man since Bode Miller in 2006.
Bryce Bennett is also a strong contender for a speed medal—the returning Olympian and Californian has a World Cup downhill win to his name, and looks to be in excellent form in recently released downhill training times.
On the men’s side, Beijing 2022 is a changing of the guard. With superstars Aksel Lund Svindal, Marcel Hirscher, and Ted Ligety retired, and Kjetil Jansrud out for the season with an injury, the field is wide open, with several favorites, but no legendary, unstoppable figures.
For the speed events, Europeans Marco Odermatt, Aleksander Aamodt Kilde, Matthias Mayer, and Beat Feuz have all been hot on the World Cup circuit—Feuz is a four time defending overall World Cup downhill champion. Odermatt can ski technical events well, too, and Australian Manuel Feller is another strong favorite in GS and slalom.
For the women, Petra Vlhová, Mikaela Shiffrin, Katharina Liensberger, and Wendy Holdener have dominated the technical events, especially slalom, on the World Cup circuit for the last half-decade—look for any of these names on the podium in slalom, GS, and combined.
On the speed side of things, the Swiss pair of Corinne Suter and Lara Gut-Behrami are phenomenal athletes and likely to win at least one medal between them, though likely more.
State of the U.S. Ski Team
Freestyle skiing is where so many of the U.S. ski team’s great medal hopes lie and should be a consistent source for medals for the entire U.S. Olympic Team. The brilliance of the U.S. in freestyle is rooted in the sport’s history and the popularity of freestyle amongst the winter sports community. Stein Eriksen, ski legend and the first modern aerialist, competed for Norway, yet settled in the U.S., making his mark on resorts like Deer Valley (near this author’s Utah home). Any weekend warrior from Sunday River to Mammoth has witnessed the wealth of parks, pipes, and mogul courses dotted across the country, and the dedicated contingent of younger skiers who make the park their home on the mountain.
Nick Goepper returns for his third Olympics looking for a third slopestyle medal after an excellent second-place finish in Pyeongchang. Goepper will bring experience to a stacked group of American slopestyle/big air athletes: Alex Hall, Maggie Voisin, and Colby Stevenson are all big names in the sport, and the rest of the roster is filled with immensely talented up and comers. Hall and 20 year old Mac Forehand are coming off impressive finishes at the X Games in late January—Hall took home the W in Big Air with Forehand in second, and the pair went 3-4 in slopestyle.
In the men’s half-pipe competition, Americans Aaron Blunck and Alex Ferreira, as well as two-time defending gold medalist David Wise, have a real shot at a win. Three American women have qualified for the mogul finals, led by Jaelin Kauf. Expect Kauf, Olivia Giaccio, and Hannah Soar all to put down strong performances. Only one American will be competing in Ski Cross, Mammoth’s Tyler Wallasch (not Pittsburgh’s Tom Wallisch!), and he’s got a shot! Wallasch placed fourth in a December 2021 World Cup circuit race.
Slopestyle, Big Air, and Half-Pipe
Slopestyle and big air are hot-streak, toss-up disciplines—just look at Joss Christensen’s surprise win at the inaugural competition in Sochi. The sport’s most popular and beloved figure, Sweden’s Henrik Harlaut, finished 17th/DNF in Pyeongchang. They’re anyone’s medals to take. That said, if the men’s side has a machine—a robotic competitor so good he’s almost guaranteed a top spot—it’s Andri Ragettli. He won gold at X Games in slopestyle, and he’s a perennial favorite in both disciplines. Similarly exceptional and consistent, Kelly Sildaru of Estonia and Eileen Gu (born in the US, but competes for China), will have a chance at medals in half-pipe, slopestyle, and big air. Gu has won the last four half-pipe World Cup events and is a heavy favorite to earn the host nation a gold.
Mikaël Kingsbury is the heavy favorite on the men’s side. The Quebecois skier finished second in Sochi, and brought home the gold in Pyeongyang. In the women’s field, Japan’s Anri Kawamura, Australia’s Jakara Anthony, and France’s Perrine Laffond have been dominating the World Cup as of late.
Aerials is the skiing event where the host nation shines. China has been dominant for the last several Olympics and will expect to continue that success with athletes Xu Mengtao and Kong Fanyu. That said, Ukrainians and Australians have put in some strong World Cup showings this season, and could spoil the party in Beijing.
The Bottom Line
That’s it for my Olympic previews! I’ll be back soon enough for wrap-ups post Closing Ceremony with a recap of the already-storied happenings on the skiing side of things at these Beijing 2022 Olympics—and hopefully a few U.S. medals to celebrate!
If you have any questions about the Games or you want some new ski gear so you can qualify the next time around, reach out to me or another Ski Expert here on Curated, and we'll be happy to help.
To know how snowboarding stands, make sure to read Winter Olympics 2022 Snowboarding – What to Look Out For.
Keep reading for a full team roster and the overall schedule so you know who to watch for and when to watch!
Team USA’s Downhill Skiing Team
- Keely Cashman (Giant slalom, super-G)
- Katie Hensien (Slalom)
- A.J. Hurt (Slalom, giant slalom, super-G)
- Mo Lebel (Downhill)
- Tricia Mangan (Giant slalom)
- Paula Moltzan (Slalom, giant slalom)
- Nina O’Brien (Slalom, giant slalom)
- Mikaela Shiffrin (Slalom, giant slalom, super-G, downhill, combined)
- Jacqueline Wiles (Downhill)
- Alix Wilkinson (replacing Breezy Jognson; super-G, Downhill)
- Bella Wright (Combined)
- Bryce Bennett (Super-G, downhill, combined)
- Ryan Cochran-Siegle (Giant slalom, super-G, downhill)
- Tommy Ford (Giant slalom)
- Travis Ganong (Super-G, downhill)
- River Radamus (Slalom, giant slalom, combined)
- Luke Winters (Slalom)
- Ashley Caldwell
- Kaila Kuhn
- Megan Nick
- Winter Vinecki
- Justin Schoenefeld
- Chris Lillis
- Eric Loughran
- Hanna Faulhaber
- Devin Logan
- Brita Sigourney
- Carly Margulies
- Aaron Blunck
- Alex Ferreira
- Birk Irving
- David Wise
- Olivia Giaccio
- Jaelin Kauf
- Kai Owens
- Hannah Soar
- Cole McDonald
- Nick Page
- Dylan Walczyk
- Brad Wilson
- Caroline Claire
- Marin Hamill
- Darian Stevens
- Maggie Voisin
- Mac Forehand
- Nick Goepper
- Alex Hall
- Colby Stevenson
- Tyler Wallasch
Airing live and replays on Peacock and NBC/NBC Sports.
Men’s Moguls (Feb. 5th) Women’s Moguls (Feb. 6th) Women’s Big Air (Feb. 8th) Men’s Big Air (Feb. 9th) Mixed Team Aerials (Feb. 10th) Women’s Slopestyle (Feb. 14th) Women’s Aerials (Feb. 14th) Men’s Slopestyle (Feb. 15th) Men’s Aerials (Feb. 16th) Women’s Ski Cross (Feb. 17th) Women’s Half-pipe (Feb. 18th) Men’s Ski Cross (Feb. 18th) Men’s Half-pipe (Feb. 19th)
Men’s Downhill (Feb. 6th) Women’s Giant Slalom (Feb. 7th) Men’s Super-G (Feb 8th) Women’s Slalom (Feb. 9th) Men’s Combined (Feb. 10th) Women’s Super-G (Feb. 11th) Men’s Giant Slalom (Feb. 13th) Women’s Downhill (Feb. 15th) Men’s Slalom (Feb. 16th) Women’s Combined (Feb. 17th) Mixed Team Parallel Slalom (Feb. 19th)
For more, you can view the entire schedule here.
Have fun and enjoy the Games! We'll be cheering on Team USA!