Fifteen athletes have been named to the New Zealand Olympic contingent for the Sochi Winter Games, with the strongest teams in freeski and snowboarding
With freeski halfpipe slopestyle and snowboard slopestyle both new sports, there is a host of new Olympians in the New Zealand team - with 12 of the 15 first-time competitors at the Winter Games.
Wanaka brothers Jossi (freeski halfpipe and slopestyle), Byron (freeski halfpipe) and Beau James (freeski halfpipe and slopestyle) Wells headline the team, with Jossi, the eldest brother, seen as one of New Zealand's's biggest medal chances. Anna Willcox meanwhile will compete in the women's freeski slopestyle.
"I'm really proud to have been named to the Olympic team and to have the opportunity to represent New Zealand in Sochi," Jossi Wells said.
''With my sport being part of the Winter Olympics for the first time ever I'm even more stoked to be going.''Wanaka's Lyndon Sheehan will also compete in the freeski halfpipe, while Janina Kuzma will take part in the women's freeski halfpipe.
New Zealand's snowboard team will be strong with Shelly Gotlieb, Stefi Luxton, Christy Prior and Rebecca Torr all competing in women's slopestyle.
Head coach of the Olympic park and pipe snow sports team Tom Willmott said recent World Cup victories by Prior and Jossi Wells have given the team momentum heading into Sochi.
"The recent momentum gained at the final qualifying events has given the team a boost and we will travel to Sochi with pride and confidence, ready to perform on the world's biggest sporting stage,'' he said.
World 11th ranked women's skelton rider Katharine Eustace will be a first timer at the Olympics, while Adam Barwood will take part in the men's slalom and giant slalom in Sochi.
There are three Olympic veterans in the team. Rebecca Sinclair competed in the snowboard halfpipe at Vancouver 2010, while Ben Sandford competed in the skeleton in Torino in 2006 and Vancouver, and Shane Dobbin skated at the last Olympics also.
New Zealand Winter Olympic Team for Sochi:
Shelly Gotlieb (Ohakune), Stefi Luxton (Wanaka), Christy Prior (Helensville), Rebecca Torr (Te Puke) - women's snowboard slopestyle; Rebecca Sinclair (Wanaka) - snowboard halfpipe; Jossi Wells (Wanaka), Byron Wells - freeski halfpipe and slopestyle; Beau-James Wells (freeski halfpipe and slopestyle); Janina Kuzma (Wanaka) - women's freeski halfpipe; Lyndon Sheehan (Wanaka) - men's freeski halfpipe; Anna Willcox (Auckland) - women's freeski slopestyle; Shane Dobbin (Palmerston North) - long track speed skating; Katharine Eustace (Wanaka) - women's skeleton; Ben Sandford (Rotorua) -men's skeleton; Adam Barwood (Queenstown) - men's slalom and giant slalom.
- Fairfax Media
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