New Zealand and Australia's long-standing rivalry has been put on ice - that being the slick surface of a bobsled track.

In one of the most unlikely transtasman showdowns yet, New Zealand is seemingly re-enacting the movie Cool Runnings in pulling together a team to race the Aussies in the US early next month.

Ahead of the first Transtasman Cup that will be battled for in a series of races at Park City, Utah, and the World Cup qualifying races preceding it, the Kiwi team have put a call out for athletes to join their crew.

The challenge, laid down by Australia's Heath Spence, has caught the team when they are without a brakeman with the races just weeks away.

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But that hasn't stopped the hardy Kiwis from picking up the gauntlet.

"We are completely the underdogs, but hey, what's new, right?" team manager Tim Johnson said.

"There's always the hope you can do your country proud."

While bobsledding has been around for nearly a century, it's perhaps known to most for the 1993 film Cool Runnings and its classic underdog tale of Jamaica's entry in the 1988 Calgary Winter Games.

That year also saw the entries of New Zealand, which performed the best of the long-shot club by placing 20th, and Australia.

In recent times, however, New Zealand has lagged behind its Antipodean cousin and failed to get teams to the Olympics.

A campaign ahead of the 2010 Vancouver Games lured top athletes such as Chris Donaldson and Carl Condliffe, but flopped after a serious crash and financial struggles.

A lack of resources also denied the 50th-ranked Kiwi team an entry at Sochi last year.

"It's the Formula 1 of winter sports in many ways," Mr Johnson said.

"There is a lot of equipment and some pretty heavy costs in transportation, so it's a very resource-intensive sport."

There was little in New Zealand to help prepare a team for the dynamics of a bobsled track, so having training time while at Northern Hemisphere events was crucial.

"In the past, we've had some really great athletes come through showing high potential, but then they get in the back of a sled and it's clear that it's not a good fit for them.

"Right now, we are in a phase of rebuilding ... but obviously we have immediate needs and this [race] is one of them."

Sprinters sought

"Feel the rhythm, feel the rhyme, get on up, it's bobsled time."

So went the pre-race chant of the Jamaican runners-turned-bobsled-hopefuls of Cool Runnings. Now it's the turn of Kiwi sprinters.

Male and female athletes are being sought for next month's Transtasman Cup race as new international rules allow for competitors of both sexes in the four-person race.

Crew members are also being sought to ride in the two-man bobsled in the preceding World Cup qualifiers in Utah.

Ideal candidates would have an above-average build - 85kg-100kg for men and 70kg-85kg for women - and be accomplished sprinters who could provide verifiable 60m or 100m sprint times.

Applicants, who can expect to undergo physical and race training in New Zealand and at the venue, can send their details to recruitment@bobsled.kiwi for consideration.