The six Irish athletes competing at the 2022 Winter Olympics

Team Ireland has named six athletes who will compete in the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. The Games will take place from Friday February 4 to Sunday February 20.

It will be a year of firsts for Team Ireland, according to Olympics.ie. It is the first time that Ireland will compete in luge, the first time that a three-time Winter Olympian will compete and the first time that Winter Olympians will attend a training camp prior to the games.

2022 will mark the eighth Winter Olympics for Team Ireland since 1992, bringing the total number of Irish Olympians to 33.

Two of this year’s participants are first-time Olympians, while the other four have already finished in Pyeongchang in 2018.

Elsa Desmond, 24, will be the first-ever Irish athlete to compete in the luge event.

The British doctor, whose family is from Ballyjamesduff in County Cavan and Cork, set up the Irish Luge Federation herself to compete for Ireland, BreakingNews.ie reports.

Meanwhile, first-time Olympian Jack Gower will compete in downhill alpine skiing, giant slalom, super-G and alpine combined.

Gower is a former junior world champion from Great Britain, whose paternal grandmother was born in Dublin and settled in Skibbereen, Co Cork.

IRELAND TEAM BEIJING 2022

⭐️Team announcement 🇮🇪#TeamIreland officially named 6⃣ athletes who will participate in the #Beijing2022 Winter Olympics !
🏂Seamus O’Connor
⛷️Bubba Newby
⛷️Thomas Maloney Westgaard
⛷️Tess Arbez
⛷️Jack Gower
🛷Elsa Desmondhttps://t.co/FDj5BMnVNS pic.twitter.com/T40DnrhZrz

— Team Ireland (@TeamIreland) January 24, 2022

American snowboarder Seamus O’Connor, 24, will make history as the first Winter Olympian from Team Ireland to compete in three Winter Olympics.

O’Connor, whose paternal grandparents hail from Drogheda, Co Louth and Dublin, will represent Ireland in Snowboard Halfpipe.

He was the Irish flag bearer at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang and also competed at Sochi 2014.

“It’s an incredible honor to be heading into my third Olympics,” O’Connor said, according to the Irish Independent.

“I was the flag bearer at the last Games and it was one of the most memorable moments of my life. I feel privileged to be able to compete in Beijing and I’m really looking forward to spending time with my teammates and seeing what the next few weeks will bring.

French alpine skier Tess Arbez, who has Irish roots in Carlow and Dublin, will compete in the giant slalom, slalom and super-G events.

Thomas Maloney Westgaard, whose mother is from Galway, will compete in his second Winter Olympics in the 15km, 30km and 50km cross-country events.

Cork-born Brendan ‘Bubba’ Newby, who competed at the 2018 Winter Olympics, will compete in the freestyle skiing event.

The Ireland squad trained at a pre-match camp in Innsbruck, Austria, before traveling to Beijing on January 26.

“The camp provides an important opportunity for athletes to get to know each other and bond before competition,” said Irish Olympic Federation spokeswoman Heather Boyle.

“The resilience and determination that these athletes showed throughout the qualification process and throughout the challenges they faced is a credit to them,” said Nancy Chillingworth, Chef de Mission for the Irish team, according to The Irish Times.

“Over the past few years, due to Covid, athletes have undergone changes to qualifying pathways, experienced canceled qualifying events and continuously adapted their training to ensure they could be as prepared as possible. Fear of a positive test has plagued their journey, yet their steely focus has been commendable.

“There was a lot of competition to be on the team, and while the focus over the next few weeks will naturally be on the team, it’s important to recognize the commitment and resilience shown by the athletes. who missed qualifying. I have no doubt that they too will have the opportunity to shine in the future.

Naomi C. Amerson