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State of the Nation – Olympics: Yorkshire stars aim for winter medals

Lizzy Yarnold celebrated winning Gold in the Women's Skeleton at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA
Lizzy Yarnold celebrated winning Gold in the Women's Skeleton at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA
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in a little over five weeks’ time, Great Britain sends a team of athletes to a Winter Olympics more in expectation than hope.

Where previously, Team GB have been a making-up-the-numbers participant in the quadrennial gathering on the ice and snow, in PyeongChang, South Korea, in February, they are very much a nation of genuine challengers.

MEDAL HOPE: Katie Summerhayes finished seventh in the 2014 Winter Olympics ski slopestyle final. Pictured: David Davies/PA

MEDAL HOPE: Katie Summerhayes finished seventh in the 2014 Winter Olympics ski slopestyle final. Pictured: David Davies/PA

Across a variety of sports as well, we are not just talking about a Torvill and Dean in the figure-skating here.

Lizzy Yarnold is among the favourites to win gold in the skeleton just as she did four years ago in Sochi, continuing what has become a strong tradition in British sport with medals won in the preceding Games of Turin and Vancouver.

Elise Christie is a genuine medal hope, having won three world titles in short-track speed skating last year.

She also has a compelling comeback narrative on her side after being disqualified three times on her Olympic debut in Russia.

Do not be surprised if, by the end of February, you know your half-pipe from your Big Air.

Nick Westby

The men’s and women’s curling teams are also expected to figure prominently in the battle for gold, replicating the achievement of Rhona Martin and her team from 16 years ago in Salt Lake City.

Yet it is not just on the ice where GB should prosper, but on snow as well.

Lancashire’s Dave Ryding is a top-10 contender in the blue riband men’s downhill, while the ‘fridge kids’ are back in the easy-on-the-eye disciplines of freestyle skiing and snowboarding.

Look out for Sheffield sisters Katie and Molly Summerhayes, plus James Woods, Jamie Nicholls and Katie Ormerod – Yorkshire-folk who all developed their love for the sport on local dry ski slopes before honing their talents in the Alps and on the Rocky Mountains.

An increase in funding to these sports over recent years has seen medal chances grow and while there is still some way to go for these sports, and these names, to become as household as their summer Olympic counterparts, do not be surprised if, by the end of February, you know your half-pipe from your Big Air.