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New Zealand Team at Sochi

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As other nations have a topic dedicated to their team in Sochi I thought I would do the same for New Zealand.

The Team will be announced on Friday 24 January and is expected to be about 14 athletes.

Im not expecting any medals, we do have a couple of outside chances of a medal in Snowboarding or Ski Slopestyle where we have won medals at world cup events.

I think we will get a couple of top 8 finishes which will be an improvement on four years ago.

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Yes the New Zealand standards for qualification at the Olympics and Winter Olympics have gotten tougher!

New Sports Dominate NZ Olympic Winter Team
Published Friday 24 January 2014

Fifteen athletes have been named to the New Zealand Olympic Winter Team in snowboard, freeski, alpine skiing, ice speed skating and skeleton.

Athletes competing in sports new to the Olympic Winter programme, snowboard slopestyle and freeski halfpipe and slopestyle dominate the team, including recent world cup gold medallists Christy Prior (snowboard slopestyle) and Jossi Wells (freeski slopestyle).

With the introduction of new sports, 12 of the 15 selected New Zealand team members will be first time Olympians, with just three athletes having attended an Olympic Games previously; Rebecca (Bex) Sinclair (snowboard halfpipe, Vancouver 2010), Ben Sandford (skeleton, Torino 2006, Vancouver 2010) and Shane Dobbin (speed skating, Vancouver 2010).

New Zealand Olympic Committee CEO Kereyn Smith says the team is exciting. “New Zealand has had some strong results in the adrenaline-filled freeski and snowboard disciplines and we’re delighted that our athletes will be at Sochi 2014 competing in cutting edge Olympic sports,” she said.

“We also welcome back athletes competing in ice speed skating and skeleton where selection criteria have been tougher than in previous years.”

Smith added that strengthened selection criteria ensured that athletes selected for New Zealand had proven themselves with a track record of credible performances leading into the Olympic Winter Games, seeing them largely achieve top half of the field finishes over the qualifying period.

Jossi Wells (freeski halfpipe and slopestyle), who will be joined in the team by his two younger brothers Byron (freeski halfpipe) and Beau James (freeski halfpipe and slopestyle), as well as father and coach Bruce Wells, says representing New Zealand at the Olympic Games for the first time will be a huge honour.

“I’m really proud to have been named to the Olympic team and to have the opportunity to represent New Zealand in Sochi. With my sport being part of the Winter Olympics for the first time ever I’m even more stoked to be going,” Wells said.

Bex Sinclair is the only park-and-pipe athlete that has been to the Olympic Winter Games before and has made an encouraging comeback from serious injury, now sitting 12th on international rankings and second on the World Cup circuit.

Her previous Olympic experience will help her provide a steadying hand in the pressure-filled Olympic environment.

Head coach of the Olympic park and pipe snow sports team Tom Willmott says blood, sweat and tears have gone into Olympic preparation for his athletes. “It’s been four long years and we’re looking to maintain the recent strong momentum heading into the Olympic Games and deliver the results that the team is capable of,” he said.

“The recent momentum gained at the final qualifying events has given the team a boost and we will travel to Sochi with pride and confidence, ready to perform on the world’s biggest sporting stage.”

Skeleton racer Ben Sandford who suffered a bone-jarring crash ahead of his final Olympic qualification event was also delighted to be heading back to the Olympic Winter Games.

He’ll be joined in skeleton by first time Olympic athlete Katharine Eustace who finished her qualification season with strong performances, resulting in a World Ranking of 11th heading into the games.

21 year-old alpine skier Adam Barwood was also selected to the team after solid results over the 2013/14 season met the strengthened selection criteria.

In Sochi, Russia, New Zealand Olympic Committee Chef de Mission Pete Wardell says he’s delighted the team has been named and is looking forward to welcoming them into the New Zealand villages from 30 January and ensuring they have the resources they need to achieve on the world’s stage

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New Zealand Winter Olympic Team for Sochi:

Shelly Gotlieb (Ohakune), Stefi Luxton (Wanaka), Christy Prior (Helensville), Rebecca Torr (Te Puke) - women's snowboard slopestyle;

Rebecca Sinclair (Wanaka) - snowboard halfpipe;

Jossi Wells (Wanaka), Byron Wells - freeski halfpipe and slopestyle;

Beau-James Wells (freeski halfpipe and slopestyle);

Janina Kuzma (Wanaka) - women's freeski halfpipe;

Lyndon Sheehan (Wanaka) - men's freeski halfpipe;

Anna Willcox (Auckland) - women's freeski slopestyle;

Shane Dobbin (Palmerston North) - long track speed skating;

Katharine Eustace (Wanaka) - women's skeleton; Ben Sandford (Rotorua) -men's skeleton;

Adam Barwood (Queenstown) - men's slalom and giant slalom.

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So New Zealand have had their best ever results overnight at an Olympic Games since 1992!

4th and 6th to the Wells Brothers in the Ski Halfpipe and 7th to Shane Dobbin in the mens 10,000m Speed Skating.

Excellent results!

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I agree. Snowboarding doesn't quite lend itself too much on drug cheats.

When is it time for NZOC and the NZ government to start emulating and investing what Australia has done with Winter Olympic sports and having its own version of Melbourne's Icehouse? NZ's got far more snow and a greater mountain range than Australia, which now has Winter Olympic depth, novelty, and medal pedigree. Australia has done a very good job in recent Olympics on this based on its location. What's it going to take to build further NZ depth in Winter Olympic sports outside of snowboarding and possibly curling in future Winter Olympics? Don't know where exactly the Kiwi Icehouse could located--very well be at the mountain range and really can't be at Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Hamilton, or Dunedin. Then again, a satelitte hq could be based among those cities for the more indoor winter sports.

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I would love to see further investment in our winter sports.... I would love the Government to get on with this tomorrow in both Summer and Winter Sports. They have done a good job over recent years in giving more funding to summer sports and this pay back came with 13 medals in London.

They just need to replicate this in the winter sports where New Zealand have had their best games since 1992 - but unfortunately that still means no medals. :(

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From my outside perspective, I've always wondered why NZ doesn't fare better in WOG. Northern hemisphere athletes do their summer training on your slopes and even though winter sports are generally quite expensive, the wealth is certainly there.

Maybe it would really need someone to push for a WOG bid, with all its implications (see other thread/s), to stir things up?

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This much applies to Chile too because of the vast and lengthy Andes range. But South America doesn't quite holds the appetite for winter sports in their mainstream--no medals yet there. Wealth is growing there but still not quite to even NZ and Australian standards in the winter sports. Snowboarding, curling, bobsled, figure skating, luge/skeleton, and skiing are solid starts there to grow on.

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Another top 8 finish for New Zealand this morning finishing 5th in the Ski halfpipe competition. So that is now 4 results in the top 8 at these games which is more than every other games combined... Lets hope we can continue to build and win our second medal at a winter Olympics in 4 years time!

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This Olympics there were supposed to be medals - as the media puts it. Some high rank finishes but no cigar from Putin.

Still, serious winter ski sports in NZ are the preserve of the "few" to put it politely...

My old hometown of Wanaka is bursting with pride though for the Wells brothers. They do have to travel to the other side of the world to compete and that's considerable cost. There is a medal there in BoJames.

Sadly we've truly dropped the ball in speed skating...This should be rectified soon if the new full size ice stadium in Hamilton is started on later this year. This is a sport we can medal in.

I still believe we need to have a minor Commonwealth Games winter carnival of a week long with just skiing and rink sports including figure skating. Alternating between Canada, NZ and Australia.

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