Alice Robinson, 16, still has two more years at high school ahead of her; but on Monday she will become the country's youngest Winter Olympian when she races the giant slalom at PyeongChang.

She's one of three alpine skiers representing New Zealand in South Korea, with Adam Barwood and Willis Feasey kicking off their three events in the Super G seeding round next Thursday.

But it's Robinson who has excited interest around the skiing community with favourable comparisons being made with the American destined to be the star of the Olympic alpine programme, Mikaela Shiffrin - not head to head now, but in terms of Robinson's rapid development compared with Shiffrin at the same age.

Robinson has had success in leadup events to the Olympics, with wins in Noram Cup and World Cup events and is ticking all the boxes,says her coach Nils Coberger. The main focus is getting a good grounding in Olympic ways, what it's about, how to get the best out of herself in the hottest skiing environment - albeit in a bitterly cold climate.


"I'm more focusing on getting experience and learning about the whole Olympic stuff," Robinson said from PyeongChang.

"On the day, I'll be going out and expecting to do quite well but I'm not focusing completely on the result but everything going on around it. A great result would be an awesome way for it to go."

Giant slalom is her better, and preferred, event. Coberger - brother of New Zealand's only Winter Olympic medallist, Annelise, in the slalom at Albertville, France 26 years ago - is certain she will head towards the speed-based events, such as Super G, downhill and GS in the next few years.

"With her power and strength that's probably where she's going," he said. "Slalom is not really her deal."

Robinson has seen the top racers in the last month and just being in that environment has given her a jab of confidence.

"It's been pretty cool, getting the whole environment and seeing everything that's going on," she said of her first look at the Olympic village. "It's quite different to normal competition and it's pretty exciting seeing all the other teams and people doing different sports."

Coberger has high praise for Robinson's work ethic and progress. "She's doing great things. Everything we've asked of her she's doing," he said. "She is getting accustomed to this level of racing. We are throwing her in the deep end without a lot of time to get experience along the way.

"But she's super strong mentally, technically very strong and tactically is learning a lot, and that will come."

Coberger said there's no acid on her to turn in a stellar performance. Time is very much on her side.

"We're not asking anything of her except to ski to her absolute maximum as a 16-year-old. [When] she comes back in four years after winning a few World Cups there going to be a lot more pressure and expectation on her. It's a cool situation."

● Freeskier Beau-James Wells was yesterday named New Zealand's flagbearer for the opening ceremony late last night (NZT). Wells, 22, finished sixth in Sochi four years ago in the halfpipe at his first Olympics.

Two of his three brothers are also in the New Zealand team, fellow halfpiper Byron and slopestyle exponent Jackson. Their oldest brother Jossi was ruled out of contention by injury, thus preventing a Wells foursome in PyeongChang.

"It's a huge honour and it going to be a night I'll never forget that's for sure," Beau-James Wells said.

● A tough break for snowboarder Tiarn Collins, who has had to withdraw from today's slopestyle qualifying after dislocating a shoulder.

Alice Robinson

●Has her first, and preferred discipline on Monday, the giant slalom, with the slalom to follow on Wednesday
●She is New Zealand's youngest Winter Olympian, at 16 years, 73 days when she races on Monday.

Kiwis in action

New Zealanders in action at Winter Olympics today:
●Men's snowboard slopestyle qualification, from 2pm (Carlos Garcia Knight).
●Men's snowboard slopestyle finals, from 2pm (Garcia Knight).
●Women's snowboard slopestyle qualification, from 5.30pm (Zoi Sadowski Synnott).
●Men's 5000m speed skating final, from 8pm (Peter Michael).