After challenging the USA for hegemony in the Summer Olympics, the Asian team is aiming for a record 13 medals at home, six of them gold
Just as Beijing has become the only city in the world to host the Summer and Winter Olympics, China aspires to become a dual-season sports superpower. It already is in the Summer Games, where for years it has disputed the throne of the medal table with the United States. Following that same progression, he now wants to take advantage of this event in his capital to stand out in the ice and snow disciplines and break his record of 11 medals, five of them gold, achieved in Vancouver 2010.
Exceeding his winners of Sochi 2014 and Pyeongchang 2018, where he obtained nine metals in each of them, said brand would be within his reach according to the forecasts of the consulting firm Nielsen Gracenote. According to their more moderate forecasts, China will obtain 13 medals and six will be gold. But Nielsen's own experts do not rule out that it will take some more for its multimillion-dollar investment for these Games, not only in infrastructure, but also in the sports preparation of its athletes.
The first gold medal, which was one of the expected ones, fell on Saturday during the first official day of competition in the mixed short track skating relay. But it cost more than expected and required two referee reviews. To add more morbidity, the first served to disqualify the USA, its eternal rival, from the semifinal, from which China had been left out. The second revision, already in the final, was a 'photo finish' that gave him the victory against Italy by only 16 thousandths of a second.
This Monday the list of winners can increase because the snowboard final of the 'slopestyle' mode is being held. At just 17 years old, Su Yiming starts as a favorite against stars like Canadian Mark McMorris, who aspires to finally win an Olympic gold after his bronzes in Sochi and Pyeongchang. For Su Yiming, on the other hand, it is his debut in the Games, a dream come true after he left his successful career as a child actor in 2015 to dedicate himself to this sport. China also has options in women's snowboarding thanks to the skill of Cai Xuetong, who will rival the Spanish Queralt Castellet in the 'halfpipe' category.
Eileen Gu resigned from the US
But China's great asset for these Games is, curiously, a US-born skier, Eileen Gu, who resigned two years ago from the country that trained her to represent her mother's and thus promote this sport among women. Double world champion at 18, Gu has become China's new star for returning to the 'motherland' and is a serious candidate for a medal in the three competitions in which she participates: acrobatic skiing 'halfpipe', 'slopestyle ' and 'Big Air'. In this sport, in the specialty of aerial jumps, Xu Mengtao, who was silver in Sochi and has seven world medals, is also running for the podium.
Trying to repeat their success from the first day, Chinese skaters Wu Dajing, Ren Ziwei, Fan Kexing and Qu Chunyu return to the Capital Indoor Stadium on Monday to reach two new individual finals: a women's 500m and a men's 1,000m. Wu Dajing, who won China's only gold medal four years ago in Pyeongchang, dreams of a double at home.
If all the forecasts are fulfilled, China will sign its best record in Beijing 2022, but it remains to be seen if it manages to get among the five best nations in the medal table. One more year, it is expected that Norway will crown him again, which is the country that has won the most metals in the history of the Winter Olympics and in Pyeongchang he took 39. This year, the Nielsen consultancy predicted him 44, but his team has been affected by a trickle of coronavirus infections that can reduce his performance.
For their part, Germany and Russia aspire to some 30 medals each and the United States and Canada will fight to be among the top five thanks to their hegemony in skiing and speed skating, respectively. But all this if it is not prevented by China, who play at home.