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NZ Bobsleigh team fourth

MEDIA RELEASE FOM THE

New Zealand Academy Of Sport South Island

November 4, 2008

NZ Bobsleigh team fourth in international competition

New Zealand's new bobsleigh team has come fourth in its first ever competition.

The Americas World Cup series race in Park City Utah saw them post a sixth then a fourth in races over the last few days, finishing in a credible time of 1:42 behind three teams from the United States.

It's a promising start to New Zealand's northern hemisphere competition on ice, with New Zealand skeleton athlete Tionette Stoddard also finishing second and fourth in her races at the event. Fellow New Zealand skeleton athlete Katharine Eustace finished 8th and 9th in the same races while Lou Corcoran finished 10th behind Katherine in one, and didn't complete the other race.

It's been a strong build-up to the World Cup skeleton championships for Tionette, who recorded the second fastest ever training time for a female skeleton athlete on the Lillehammer Olympic track in training this October.

NZ Academy of Sport South Island (ASI) Winter Programme Director Ashley Light is pleased with the results.

"Tionette's results and improved push positions her well as a potential medal prospect at the World Cup, starting on November 22. The bobsleigh project is also progressing on track; the team performed well given their lack of international experience to date, issues getting gear organised, and they hadn't raced on the new New Zealand bobsleigh prior to the race."

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This is the first in a series of races for the bobsleigh team, with more races in Calgary and Lake Placid in the following six weeks. Competing in this America's Cup bobsleigh series is necessary to qualify for the World Championships in Lake Placid in February 2009.

The bobsleigh team of Sam Higgie, Chris Donaldson, Tom Davie and leader Alan Henderson was formed earlier in the year after a nationwide talent identification programme trained promising strong New Zealand athletes in bobsleigh push techniques guided by international bobsleigh coach Gerd Grimme.

New Zealand's first purpose-built bobsleigh, made in Germany for international standard competition, was shipped to the United States in time for the competition by bobsleigh logistics supporter DHL Express New Zealand.

This is one of several talent identification projects supported by the government agency Sport and Recreation New Zealand (SPARC) to develop athletes for the future, looking at how to identify and transfer talent from other sports to get world-class results. The athlete's development is being managed by the ASI through its Winter Performance programme, which supports elite athletes in several winter sports capable of success on the world stage. It co-ordinates and provides coaching, sports science, medical and performance support, with medals at the Winter Olympics the upcoming focus.

The Academy South Island, works in partnership with the other parts of the NZAS Network and SPARC to provide high performance support, services and advise to athletes, coaches and other personnel. The focus is on excellence - helping our top athletes achieve optimal performances.


ENDS


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