Olympic skating legend Robin Cousins on Beijing 2022, his Olympic memories and missing 'Dancing On Ice'

Robin Cousins will be on the BBC commentary team at Beijing 2022.
Robin Cousins will be on the BBC commentary team at Beijing 2022. (Image credit: Getty)

Robin Cousins can't wait for all the winter sports action to begin in Beijing as he's among the BBC’s commentary team in China. 

Legendary figure skater Robin famously won gold for Britain at the Lake Placid Olympics in 1980 so knows firsthand what pressures the athletes might be facing, and where the pitfalls could lie.  

Beijing coverage in the UK is on BBC1, BBC2, and BBC Red Button. Following a spectacular opening ceremony at the Bird’s Nest Stadium on Friday Feb. 4, Team GB’s skiers and skaters take to the snow and ice from Saturday, Feb. 5 2022. This year, Great Britain is sending a squad of around 50 athletes to the Games, and we’re aiming to better our record haul of five medals — a tally achieved in Sochi in 2014 and matched four years later in Pyeongchang. 

So we caught up with Robin, 64, to get the lowdown on British medal chances and the international stars to look out for, plus we hear his own Olympic memories and more in our exclusive interview...

Robin Cousins on the Olympic podium at Lake Placid in 1980 having taken the men's ice skating gold.

Robin Cousins on the Olympic podium at Lake Placid in 1980 having taken the men's ice skating gold. (Image credit: Getty)

Our exclusive interview with Robin Cousins...

Who are you looking forward to seeing in the figure skating this Winter Olympics? 
Robin says: "The men’s reigning champion, Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan, is going for a third consecutive gold medal. He is a very cool, calm, and collected skater and something of an enigma. He has said he’ll attempt the first quadruple axel ever seen in competition, which would be incredible. He attempted the jump — the hardest in the sport — when winning the Japanese championship in December and he wasn’t far off making it." 

Would you have been capable of such a jump in your prime? 
Robin says: [Starts giggling] "Please tell your readers that I am laughing at the very idea of this! I never even did a triple axel in competition, let alone a quadruple. The changes that have taken place in figure skating in the past 10 years have been mind-boggling. These days, skaters aged nine are able to perform the same elements I did when I won the Olympics. It’s like a walk in the park for them."

Team GB has a great chance at curling?
Robin says: "Remember when it seemed like the whole nation stayed up to watch Rhona Martin led the British women’s curling team to gold in 2002? This year, we have a great chance with mixed doubles pair Bruce Moat and Jennifer Dodd who go into the Games as reigning world champions, plus the men's team led by Bruce and women's skippered by Eve Muirhead."

Which Brit should we look out for on the ski slopes?
Robin says: "Scottish skier Kirsty Muir is just 17 and appearing in her first Winter Olympics. She enjoyed a glittering junior career and will be Team GB’s youngest athlete in Beijing. There’s a similar vibe around Kirsty as there was around teen skateboarder Sky Brown in the Tokyo Olympics last year."

How about Bobsleigh?
Robin says: "Brad Hall will pilot Team GB in the four-man bob and the two-man bob, and his teams enter the Games ranked fourth and fifth in the world respectively. Olympic long jump gold medallist Greg Rutherford was hoping to make his Winter Games debut after switching to bobsleigh, but his four-man team failed to qualify."

Bruce Moat and Jennifer Dodd are in with a good shout of Curling gold.

Robin Cousins thinks Britain's mixed team of Bruce Moat and Jennifer Dodd (above) are in with a good shout of Curling gold. (Image credit: Alamy)

Astonishingly, it’s 42 years since you won Olympic gold in Lake Placid. Do you ever watch your performance? 
Robin says: "Forty Two years! Thanks for the reminder! I’ve still never watched footage of the whole performance that day. I have a very clear vision in my head of how it played out for me and my family who were at the venue — and I want to keep that intact. I remember watching the Union flag being raised and seeing my family and coaches cheering. That’s my memory of the Olympics, even more so than the result."

How much skating are you doing at the moment?
Robin says: "I still like to keep my feet wet. I choreographed another Holiday on Ice production last year, but we only managed one week in Belgium in September before we had to cancel the tour because of Covid restrictions. Fingers crossed we’ll be able to resume later this year."

Have you ever tried your hand at any of the other Winter Olympics events?
Robin says: "I am a speed freak so I’ve always enjoyed downhill skiing. I would love to find time in my schedule to get on the slopes when I am in China."

Of course, the downside of you being out there is that you won’t be able to watch Dancing On Ice 2022
Robin says: "I had a great time when I was a judge on the show, working with Jayne and Chris. It’s a reality show, but it has a big impact on getting families on the ice, and getting kids interested in taking up skating – whether it’s figure skating or speed skating. Team GB’s Lewis Gibson, who’ll be competing in the ice dance, was inspired to take up the sport by watching Dancing on Ice, so that shows how effective it is." 

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Richard McClure

As well as writing on sport and television for What to Watch, Richard McClure has contributed art and travel features for a wide variety of publications, including the Financial Times, The Guardian, and The Observer.