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Chef de Mission of the New Zealand Olympic Team Pete Wardell has arrived in Sochi, Russia to prepare for the arrival of athletes and ensure they have everything they need to take on the best of the winter sports world.

The Olympic Games for New Zealands athletes spans two locations, the Black Sea coastal cluster for speed skating and, one hour away, the mountain cluster for freeski, snowboard, alpine and skeleton athletes.

  For Wardell, this split means the team must prepare two village environments with both the comforts of home as well as medical and physiotherapy equipment, fully functioning offices and team communications gear as well as process and unload team freight before the athletes arrive on 1 February.

  The team will also be formally registered this week and the operations staff who have travelled with Wardell will set about checking venue conditions, understanding transport routes, facilities and meeting on-the-ground staff.

  Wardell, who has concluded his first day in the Russian host city, is focused on the athlete environment. Today was about having a general look from the outside, at both the mountain and coastal cluster before we take possession of our two village spaces on the 24th of January, when we will register the team and start the detailed process of checking venues, transport and other games systems.

  We need to make sure we know exactly how things work before the athletes arrive," said Wardell.

They need to get here and be able to focus on delivering performances that will make us proud.

  Wardell also commented that Russia looked ready for the games.

   The venues are absolutely stunning and the surrounding areas are now complete, the workmen have virtually all completed their work and have disappeared with all of their equipment. Compared to October when I was last here, there has been an enormous amount achieved. Organising personnel are everywhere and very keen to be involved and of assistance to us." he said.

"The Olympic overlay is in place and its now about checking everything is working as it should.

  He added that snow in the mountains was in good order, with more forecast to fall over the next days. As expected there have been rain and snow days on the lower slopes, but the areas where our team will be competing in snowboard and freeski have a good base of snow accumulating.

  The New Zealand team selection takes place tomorrow and the first athletes arrive in Sochi on 1st February 2014. The games kick off on 7 February. 


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