China continues big-name Winter Olympic coaching hires with biathlon king

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China took another step toward its bid for home success at the 2022 Beijing Winter Games by hiring two of the greatest biathletes in history as national team coaches.

Norwegian Ole Einar Bjoerndalen, the male record holder with 13 Winter Olympic medals, and his wife, Belarus’ Darya Domracheva, a six-time medalist, will lead a Chinese biathlon program that has never earned an Olympic medal.

Previously, China hired Shaun White‘s former coach to guide its snowboarding program, a world champion German to coach bobsledders, a world champion Canadian to coach skeleton sliders, a world champion Swede to coach curlers and Dutch and South Korean coaches in speed skating.

China, the closest rival to the U.S. in Summer Olympic medals over the last 20 years, earned its first Winter Olympic gold medals in 2002. It reached as high as eighth in the total medal standings at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games.

The Chinese dropped to 14th place in PyeongChang with one gold medal from short track speed skater Wu Dajing.

But if China’s success in hosting the 2008 Summer Olympics is any indication (leading 48 gold medals, 100 total medals), it will become a major factor in two years.

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