Preview: Denmark sends largest-ever Winter Olympic team to Beijing with medal hopes

Publish Time: 2022-01-29 Author: From: Xinhua

COPENHAGEN, Jan. 28 (Xinhua) -- Denmark will send 62 athletes (29 women and 33 men) to the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, more than three times the size of their previous largest delegation of 18 at the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver, Canada.

A larger delegation is due to the men's and women's ice hockey teams' debut at the Games.

For the men's team who ranks 12th in the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF), their realistic expectation is to reach the quarterfinals.

Ranking 11th on the IIHF, the women's team is also realistic, with captain Josefine Jakobsen viewing participation in the spirit of the Olympic oath for "the glory of sport and the honor of our teams."

"It was incredible that we qualified for the Olympics, and the Winter Olympics will be an incredible experience," said Jakobsen.

The Danish women's ice hockey team will make its debut against hosts China in the opening match on February 4.

If Denmark does have a medal chance, all eyes should be on speed skater Viktor Hald Thorup, who holds seven national records.

Thorup has been training with the American national team in Salt Lake City, Utah.

The Danish Sports Confederation (DIF) hopes that Thorup finishes in top 10 of the men's mass start, but believes he has the potential to be among top five finishers, if not a medalist.

"I've devoted my life to doing everything possible to win Denmark's first individual Winter Olympics medal!" Thorup wrote on his personal website.

Denmark made its Olympic debut in 1948 in St. Moritz, Switzerland, and has only missed three Games (1956, 1972 and 1984).

However, Denmark has only won a single medal, in contrast to participating Nordic neighbours Norway, Sweden and Finland, which have won multiple Winter Olympic medals.

This lone Danish victory came in 1998, when the women's curling team won silver at the Nagano Winter Games in Japan.

Despite sharing a rich history and culture with these Winter Olympic hosts, Denmark lacks mountains and a plentiful supply of snow.

Though Greenland, which is a part of the Realm of Denmark, could provide an ideal environment for developing Winter Olympic talent, its population of approximately 56,000 people is insufficient.

Occasionally, however, the world's largest island, sandwiched between the Arctic and the Atlantic Oceans, produces Winter Olympic talent.

Ukaleq Slettemark has been chosen to represent Denmark in the women's biathlon.

"I am extremely proud to represent the Commonwealth and to stand up for both Greenland and Denmark," the 20-year-old wrote on social media.

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