ParalympicsGB has confirmed one of the biggest British teams ever to compete at a Paralympic Winter Games with the announcement of the Ski and Snowboard athletes for Beijing 2022.
The 20 selected individuals are scheduled to compete in Alpine skiing, Nordic skiing (biathlon and cross country) and Snowboard alongside the five Wheelchair curlers who were announced in January 2022.
This means ParalympicsGB will have a team size of 25 for the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games, the biggest since Lillehammer 1994.
Alpine skiing features defending Paralympic Slalom champion and PyeongChang 2018 multi-medallist, Menna Fitzpatrick who will be competing with new guides Katie Guest. Fitzpatrick will be joined again by PyeongChang 2018 triple medallist, Millie Knight who will be partnered again by Brett Wild. They are joined in the Visually Impaired (VI) class by Games debutant Neil Simpson who is guided by his brother Andrew.
All three athletes enjoyed recent medal success at the 2021 World Championships in Lillehammer. Gary Smith, guide to Kelly Gallagher at PyeongChang 2018, is acting as a support guide for Beijing, and completes the VI team for the Games.
Menna Fitzpatrick said: “It’s a huge honour to be selected to represent ParalympicsGB again, and I can’t wait to get out there and get started. The last two years have been disrupted due to injury and the pandemic and, with uncertainty about whether the Games would go ahead, let alone the qualification process, to have a seat on that plane is amazing. I’m super excited to travel to China as part of such an incredible team of athletes representing Great Britain.”
Shona Brownlee will also be making her Games debut after a rapid rise since taking up the sport just four years ago. She is joined in the Sitting Class by Alex Slegg and Dan Sheen, who both went to PyeongChang on the ParalympicsGB Paralympic Inspiration Programme designed to give aspiring athletes a taste of the Games.
In the Standing Class, James Whitley will be looking to build on the experience he gained in multiple events at Sochi 2014 and PyeongChang 2018.
Nordic skiing has no fewer than five athletes selected, demonstrating the progress the sport has made since Scott Meenagh became the first British athlete to compete for 20 years at PyeongChang 2018.
Meenagh is joined by fellow military veteran Steve Arnold with both set to compete in the biathlon and cross-country events. They will be joined in both events by debutant Callum Deboys, who was inspired to take up the sport after meeting Meenagh.
Competing in just the cross-country events will be Steve Thomas who will be participating at a remarkable sixth Paralympics having represented ParalympicsGB in sailing from 2004-2016 as well as being part of the Para ice hockey team at Turin 2006 and Hope Gordon, who is also on the British Canoe high performance programme, and is set to become ParalympicsGB’s first ever female Nordic athlete.
Scott Meenagh said: “I’m extremely proud to have been selected to go to my second Paralympic Winter Games. To be here again four years later alongside four other Para Nordic skiers is just an amazing feeling, and a real confirmation of the progress we’re making as a country in the sport. It’s been a challenging couple of years for all of us, but knowing our efforts will see us ready to compete in Beijing shows the hard work has been worth it. I can’t wait to get out there and get amongst it with the team!”
Snowboard sees the return of two athletes who featured at PyeongChang 2018, James Barnes-Miller fresh from his recent medal success at the World Championships in Lillehammer, and Owen Pick who won a silver medal at the Klovsjo 2022 World Cup. They are joined by Games debutants Ollie Hill – who won a World Championships bronze in the team event along with Barnes-Miller – and Andy MacLeod.
James Barnes-Miller said: “I’m stoked to be a part of the squad for the Paralympic Winter Games, and I’m just buzzing to get out on the snow in Beijing. I learned so much from my first experience of the Paralympics four years ago and I want to bring all of that experience to the slopes when our events get started. We’ve got an incredible squad and we showed at the World Championships that we’re ready to compete with the best in the world. Bring it on!”
Phil Smith, ParalympicsGB Chef de Mission at Beijing 2022, said: “I am absolutely delighted to be able to confirm ParalympicsGB will be taking one of our biggest ever Winter teams and one that promises to be our most competitive across a wider range of sports and events than ever before.
“The determination, strength and resilience each of these talented athletes has shown as they have continued to train and compete during these most challenging times has been incredible and I have no doubt that they will once again unite and inspire the nation with their performances at Beijing 2022.
“We are looking forward to using Beijing to build on the success of the past two Paralympic Winter Games and further enhance our reputation as an emerging winter sport nation.”
The Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games take place from March 4th to March 13th and are expected to be the biggest ever featuring an estimated 600 athletes from more than 50 countries.
Beijing 2022 Snowsport Athletes and hometown
Para Alpine Skiing
Shona Brownlee – Livingston
Menna Fitzpatrick – Macclesfield (Guide: Katie Guest – Perth))
Millie Knight – Canterbury (Guide: Brett Wild – Glasgow)
Dan Sheen – Ellesmere Port
Neil Simpson – Banchory (Guide: Andrew Simpson – Banchory)
Alex Slegg – Amesbury
Gary Smith – Luton (Guide)
James Whitley – Wilmington
Para Nordic Skiing
Steve Arnold – Hampshire
Callum Deboys – Kirkmichael
Hope Gordon – Golspie
Scott Meenagh – Cumbernauld
Steve Thomas – Ogmore Valley
James Barnes-Miller – Broadstairs
Ollie Hill – Reading
Andy Macleod – Stirling
Owen Pick – Bury St. Edmunds