Winter Olympics: 15 Kiwis heading to Sochi

By David Lawrence

New Zealand's top freeskier Jossi Wells. Photo / Dean Purcell
New Zealand's top freeskier Jossi Wells. Photo / Dean Purcell

New Zealand will be represented by a team of 15 athletes at next month's Winter Olympics in Sochi.

The squad includes competitors in snowboard, freeskiing alpine skiing, speed skating and skeleton.

Only three of the team, snowboarder Rebecca Sinclair, skeleton racer Ben Sandford and skater Shane Dobbin, have previously competed at a Winter Games.

Two of the squad, snowboarder Christy Prior and freeskier Jossi Wells won World Cup events in the last few days, in Wells' case to secure a second quota spot for New Zealand in the slopestyle discipline and he'll be joined by one of his brothers, Beau-James in that event.

A third brother, Byron, is part of the halfpipe quartet.

''With my sport being part of the Winter Olympics for the first time ever I'm even more stoked to be going," Jossi Wells said.

Alpine skier Adam Barwood made a late run to force his way into the Games team, while Katharine Eustace, a 38-year-old physiotherapist from Wanaka is the oldest athlete in the group.

''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," New Zealand Olympic Committee chief executive Kereyn Smith said.

There will be strong hopes of a freeskiing medal while four slopestyle snowboarders in the women's event also raises hopes of a solid showing. Prior leads the way with a world ranking of No 7.

New Zealand has won one Winter Olympic medal, a slalom silver by Annelise Coberger in 1992.

New Zealand's team for the Winter Olympics, starting in Sochi, Russia on February 7:
Freeskiing:
Men's slopestyle: Jossi Wells (Wanaka), Beau-James Wells (Wanaka)
Men's halfpipe: Jossi Wells, Beau-James Wells, Byron Wells (Wanaka), Lyndon Sheehan (Wanaka)
Women's halfpipe: Janina Kuzma (Wanaka)
Women's slopestyle: Anna Willcox (North Shore)
Snowboarding:
Women's slopestyle: Christy Prior (Helensville), Steffi Luxton (Wanaka), Shelly Gotlieb (Ohakune), Rebecca Torr (Te Puke)
Women's halfpipe: Rebecca Sinclair (Wanaka)
Skating, long track: Shane Dobbin (Gold Coast)
Skeleton: Ben Sandford (Rotorua), Katharine Eustace (Wanaka)
Alpine skiing, slalom and giant slalom: Adam Barwood (Queenstown)

- NZ Herald

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