The six athletes who will represent Team Ireland at the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing have officially been named.
The athletes will compete at the games in just over ten days, when they kick off on February 4th, and bring the total number of Irish Winter Olympians to 33.
Beijing 2022 will see four of the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympians return, joined by two first-time Olympians… here is a quick introduction.
Alpine Skiing – Tess Arbez
Tess Arbez at the squad training base in Innsbruck, Austria. Photo: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
With roots in Carlow and Dublin, the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympian is set to compete in the Giant Slalom, Slalom and Super G events in Beijing.
She was born in Vetraz, Monthoux in France, near the Swiss border, and currently studies biomedical studies in Geneva.
Alpine Skiing – Jack Gower
Jack Gower at the squad training base in Innsbruck, Austria. Photo: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
Gower’s paternal grandmother was born in Dublin and settled in Skibbereen. He is competing in his first Olympic Games.
The former Junior World Champion for Great Britain is set to compete in the Downhill, Giant Slalom, Super G and Alpine Combined events.
Cross Country Skiing – Thomas Maloney Westgaard
Thomas Maloney Westgaard at the squad training base in Innsbruck, Austria. Photo: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
Heading into his second Olympic Games, Westgaard is competing in the 15km, 30km and 50km events in Beijing.
With a Galway mother and Norwegian father, he is a well-respected consistent athlete on the world circuit in Cross Country Skiing, training up to five hours or 58km in one session.
Freestyle Skiing – Brendan ‘Bubba’ Newby
Brendan ‘Bubba’ Newby at the squad training base in Innsbruck, Austria. Photo: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
Cork-born Brendan Newby is better known as Bubba. He competed in the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympics, fulfilling a childhood dream he had since first watching the Olympics in Salt Lake City as a child.
He will now be competing in Beijing as an even better skier, pulling his first ‘double’ in Austria in November.
Luge – Elsa Desmond
Elsa Desmond at the squad training base in Innsbruck, Austria. Photo: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
This will be the first time that Ireland will have a luge athlete in the Olympics, thanks to the talent and drive of Desmond, who set up the Irish Luge Federation herself in order to compete for Ireland.
The qualified medical doctor was targeting Milan 2026 primarily, and a strong showing in the latter part of the season helped secure her name in history as Ireland’s first luge athlete.
Her paternal grandmother is from Ballyjamesduff, Co Cavan, and her grandfather is from Cork.
Snowboard Halfpipe – Seamus O’Connor
Seamus O’Connor at the squad training base in Innsbruck, Austria. Photo: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
Beijing 2022 will see O’Connor become the first Team Ireland Winter Olympian to compete in three Winter Olympic Games. He previously competed in both Sochi 2014, Pyeongchang 2018, and at 24 is already a veteran of the sport.
His paternal grandparents are from Drogheda and Dublin, and he lives in Utah in the US.
“It’s an incredible honour to be heading into my third Olympic Games. I was the flag bearer for the last Games, and that was one of the most memorable moments in my life,” he said.
The Team Ireland athletes are currently at a pre-games camp in Innsbruck, Austria, where they are training from their base in Mutters and getting to know each other ahead of the competition.
Team Ireland Chef de Mission Nancy Chillingworth commended the “resilience and determination” of the athletes amid the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Throughout the past few years, due to Covid, athletes have endured changes to qualification pathways, experience cancelled qualification events, and have adapted their training on a continuous basis to ensure they could be as prepared can be.
“The fear of a positive test has peppered their journey, and yet still, their steely focus has been commendable.”
Ms Chillingworth and a small team have already arrived in Beijing for set up, with the athletes and the rest of the support team to travel out on January 26th.
The Beijing Games is spread across three distinct villages and zones – Beijing, Yanqing and Zhangjiakou, with Irish interest in the latter two.
The official team announcement for the Team Ireland Winter Olympic team is in association with Deloitte, partner of Team Ireland.