New Zealand skeleton racer Ben Sandford is on the hunt for a medal at the Winter Olympics, which start in Vancouver on Friday.

Sandford finished 10th in the skeleton at the Tornio Olympics in 2006, New Zealand's highest finish at the Games, but said he was looking to do better this time around.

"I would be disappointed if I didn't. I really want to be up there fighting for a medal, so my goal for this Olympics is to put myself in a position where, come the second day, I'm in a position to come away with one," Sandford said.

The 30-year-old conceded it would not be easy to achieve a podium finish.

"My form this season wouldn't suggest that I'm the right place, but one of the good things about skeleton is that it's very track-specific and I think Whistler is a track that suits me quite well."

Injury had prevented him racing at 100 per cent over the last season, Sandford said, but he hoped to overcome that at the Games.

"I had a nerve problem in my back that was giving me hamstring problems, and it took a really long time to recover from that," Sandford said.

"I still have problems, but generally I think I'm on top of everything at the moment and I'm pretty happy with the build up. It could be going better, but you play with the cards you're dealt to a certain extent, and I think it's good enough to put me in a position to fight for a top placing."

Sandford, who hails from Rotorua, has skeleton success in the blood - his uncle Bruce was the 1992 world champion.

"That made quite an impression on me when I was about 11 and it was always in the back of my mind that skeleton was there for me to try," Sandford said.

"Once I finished university I didn't really feel like working in a law firm, so I talked to Bruce about what to do, then headed off to Europe and have been doing it ever since."

The sport, often described as hurtling down a mountain on an oven tray, was a fit with Sandford from the moment he touched the ice.

"There are all sorts of things I love about skeleton, but I suppose the first thing that comes to mind is the speed, the sensation of sliding on the ice," he said.

"When you get things right and come out of a corner this feeling of acceleration on the ice is very unique, I've never felt anything else like it."

Sandford arrives in Vancouver tomorrow along with fellow skeleton competitors Tionette Stoddard and Iain Roberts and a support team that has travelled with the group over the past season.

"The NZOC have allowed us to bring our own support staff, which is good," Sandford said.

"It really helps in a high performance sport if you have that continuity, especially at an Olympics where you've got so much going on. If you have those people who know you and have been around you all season they can provide you with a sort of structure."

The skeleton team are the last of the New Zealanders to arrive in Canada, but Sandford said he did not think that was a concern in terms of settling into the national team.

"At the last Winter Olympics they did a good job of creating a New Zealand team atmosphere, and bringing New Zealand to you, and I think that's an important thing at the Olympics," he said.

"It's not like you're in a rugby team and you're together every week. You don't have that bond where you go through the same things together, so there's a different kind of team at the Olympics.

"I spend six months of the year travelling around Europe and North America competing, and you almost lose touch with New Zealand a little bit. You're away for so long that you lose a bit of the feeling, so it's really nice to come to the Olympic Village and be reminded of New Zealand."

He said the atmosphere was conducive to performing well.

"They create an atmosphere that reminds you of home and I try to draw on that and use the pride in New Zealand to think `I'm here representing the country, I want to do my best'."

- NZPA