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NZ Sending Its Strongest Olympic Winter Games Team

NZ Sending Its Strongest Olympic Winter Games Team

With only a few days to go to the Olympic Winter Games, High Performance Sport NZ (HPSNZ) and the New Zealand Olympic Committee (NZOC) are expressing confidence in the team competing in Sochi.

HPSNZ Chief Executive Alex Baumann says the team announced recently by the New Zealand Olympic Committee is possibly the strongest and best prepared New Zealand has sent to an Olympic Winter Games.

``In Vancouver in 2010 we targeted top 10 places, but at the Sochi Games New Zealand is sending athletes who can make finals and have the potential to medal. This in part reflects the impact of our increased investment in Snow Sports New Zealand’s high performance programme over the past four years,’’ he says.

Last year HPSNZ provided an extra one-off $115,000 to help with preparations for the Sochi Games, which brought its investment to Snow Sports NZ in 2013 to $1.815m. This was on top of increases in funding over the previous few years, including additional investment from the New Zealand Olympic Committee through Olympic Solidarity.

The Government also helped establish a high performance centre in Wanaka where the athletes can train off the mountain. HPSNZ technical experts have also been working with the athletes in their build-up to Sochi, and some of them are part of the New Zealand support team going to the Games.
``For many of the athletes selected to the New Zealand team, this will be their first Olympics. It’s a tough environment to compete in but there have been some strong performances at World Cups in the lead up to these Games. They’re a talented group of athletes, who are ready to compete. Overall, it’s perhaps the most professionally prepared team we’ve ever sent to a Winter games,’’ Baumann says.

``With this investment and support there’s potential for New Zealand to do well, particularly in the freeski and snowboard slopestyle events but we have to be realistic. These events are new to the Olympic Winter Games and the nature of them is such that positions on the podium can change around a lot. For example over a six month period in the park and pipe disciplines during the 2013 Northern hemisphere season, 19 athletes claimed podiums.’’

“This is a new group of athletes that have had to work really hard to perform in World Cup competitions to meet toughened Olympic selection standards,’’ says Kereyn Smith, CEO of the New Zealand Olympic Committee. “They are full of potential and we’re looking forward to some strong performances in incredibly exciting, high adrenaline, high risk sports.”
Kereyn Smith added that the funding increases and strengthening performance planning and tougher selection standards have seen athletes’ international rankings improve. “We’ve selected athletes that have built a credible track record during Olympic qualification and we’re looking forward to more athletes going through to finals at Sochi 2014.”

-- Ends --

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