Winter Sports - Hunt: Britain's best team yet for Sochi

British Olympic Association chief executive Andy Hunt expects the nation's winter athletes to be more competitive than ever at Sochi 2014, revealing the team could be 50-strong team with selection potentially starting in April.

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Andy Hunt (Reuters)

Britain's best ever performance at the Winter Olympics remains the four medals won at the inaugural Games in Chamonix in 1924 with the overall tally since then standing at 22, nine golds, three silvers and ten bronzes.

However, with exactly one year to go until the opening ceremony at Sochi 2014, Britain, who toasted just Amy Williams' women's skeleton gold at Vancouver 2010, have a host of realistic medal hopes.

Short track speed skater Elise Christie has just won the World Cup title in the 1000m, the first Brit to achieve such a feat, while she claimed double European gold last month.

Freestyle skier James Woods currently leads the slopestyle World Cup rankings with two victories from two this season while he claimed bronze at the Winter X Games in Aspen last month.

Shelley Rudman, who won the women's skeleton World Cup title last year, took gold at the World Championships last week in St Moritz with teammate Lizzy Yarnold fourth.

On the same ice British No.1 bobsleigh pilot John Jackson and his crew of Stuart Benson, Bruce Tasker and Joel Fearon were fifth at their World Championships, 0.07seconds off bronze.

Britain's men's curling team are currently ranked second in the world while Eve Muirhead's rink claimed silver at the European Championships in December, a year after winning gold.

Penny Coomes and Nicholas Buckland finished fifth in the ice dance at the European Figure Skating Championships last month and then there's snowboarders Billy Morgan, Jenny Jones and Zoe Gillings.

None of that is lost on Hunt who admits the first of approximately 50 athletes could be selected in the spring and is quietly confident of another historic Olympics for Team GB in Sochi.

"Based on what we know today and have seen so far this winter season, Team GB is likely to be comprised of approximately 50 athletes," said Hunt, who saw Britain claim 65 medals at London 2012.

"The first athletes have already started hitting the qualification criteria with the last possible opportunities to qualify on January 19 2014. Selection to Team GB could start as early as April of this year and run until January next year.

"For the Sochi 2014 Games, we believe this could be the most competitive winter Team GB yet. We have some good medal contenders across a number of sports, disciplines and events.

"What we have to keep in mind though, is that many winter sports are highly unpredictable, more so than summer sports, in the sense that it can easily go either way.

"One second you are in a medal winning position, next you can be down and out of contention. That is certainly part of the excitement and thrill of watching these sports and events. They are fast, they are nail biting and they are unpredictable."

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