Five ice hockey athletes have been selected to the New Zealand Team for the Lausanne 2020 Winter Youth Olympic Games.
The athletes are:
- Tallulah Bryant, Wakatipu High School, 15 years
- Jack Lewis, John McGlashan College, 14 years
- Caleb Chapman, Dunstan High School, 15 years
- Katya Blong, Ontario Hockey Academy, 14 years
- Axel Ruski-Jones, Wakatipu High School, 14 years
The athletes will compete in 3x3 ice hockey in mixed nation teams, meaning the New Zealanders won’t play as a national team but will be teamed up with athletes from other nations around the world.
Ice hockey team administrator Darren Blong says the Games are a once in a lifetime opportunity for the athletes.
“Our athletes will be competitive but it’s also important they enjoy the experience, build relationships and learn a lot while they’re over there,” said Blong.
“The boys are all strong skaters and are extremely hardworking, Caleb can play forward or defence, Jack is always getting involved in the action, and Axel is a skilled playmaker.
“The girls Tallulah and Katya grew up playing with boys so they’re aggressive players who are hungry to win.”
15-year-old Tallulah Bryant (Ngāti Kahungunu) has been spending as much time as possible on the ice as she worked towards selection.
“I practice in the rink all the time, in the mornings I do skills over and over again and then I play as many games as possible.”
“I wanted to go to the Winter Youth Olympic Games because I thought it’d be a cool experience and an opportunity to learn off some of the best athletes in the world. I’m really stoked to get in.”
The tournament will be contested by eight teams in both the men’s and women’s division.
“It’s going to be full on, there’s a lot of games in a short amount of time but I’m really looking forward to it. It’ll be great because it’s so international,” said Bryant.
NZOC CEO Kereyn Smith extended her congratulations to the athletes.
“Well done to the athletes for making it to this point. We look forward to seeing you compete in Europe in January.”
Luke Simon and Caleb Chamberlin have been conditionally selected as non-travelling reserves.
The Lausanne 2020 Winter Youth Olympic Games will be contested from January 9th to 22nd in Switzerland and neighbouring France.
Around 20 New Zealand athletes are expected to compete at Lausanne 2020. 11 New Zealand athletes competed at the previous edition of the Winter Youth Olympic Games, with four of those athletes going on to compete at the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games.