Nine chosen for Winter Olympics team
‘‘These athletes . . . require incredible physical and mental strength and they have undoubtedly earned the right to wear the fern at the Olympic Winter Games.’’
Nine athletes were named yesterday for New Zealand’s team to compete at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics in South Korea in 2018.
The team is eventually expected to include up to 20 athletes and thus far is stacked with teenagers.
It includes the Porteous brothers Nico, 15, and Miguel, 18, (freeski halfpipe), 2016 Youth Olympian freeskier bronze and silver medallist Finn Bilous, 18, and world cup winning snowboard slopestyler Zoi Sadowski Synnot, 16, all of Wanaka.
Queenstown’s Tiarn Collins, 17, (snowboard slopestyle and big air) and Colorado-based Kiwi Rakai Tait, 18, (snowboard halfpipe) round out the youthful contingent.
Wanaka’s Janina Kuzma, 32, is the senior stateswoman of the team and returns for her second Winter Olympic Games, having finished fifth in the women’s freeski halfpipe at Sochi 2014.
Also named were snowboard slopestyler and Winter Games bronze medallist Carlos Garcia Knight, 20, and 2017 World Championship ski cross silver medallist Jamie Prebble, 26, both of Christchurch.
The athletes met both the Snow Sports NZ nomination criteria and the New Zealand Olympic Committee’s tough selection standards early in the season.
Selections are subject to official allocation of International Ski Federation (FIS) quota spots.
Another group of athletes, including Wanaka’s freesking Wells brothers, are still working towards nomination and selection and head off soon for Northern Hemisphere competition.
The second tranche of announcements is expected early next year and is expected to include more freeskiers and snowboarders, as well as athletes tracking well in speedskating, skeleton and alpine ski disciplines.
NZOC chief executive Kereyn Smith said the initial selection demonstrated the depth of talent in New Zealand snow sports.
Miguel Porteous and Nico Porteous.