New Zealand Olympic officials and athletes have gathered in the Black Sea city of Sochi, Russia to mark the one year countdown to the Olympic Winter Games. The delegation will take part in a series of test events, venue tours and meetings designed to coincide with the significant 365 day milestone.
As Russia stands by to celebrate, preparations in the resort city are well advanced with a number of breath-taking venues complete and a spectacular ceremony at the newly completed Adler Speed Skating Stadium slated to take place tomorrow night (eds. 7 Feb, Russian time).
Chef de Mission Pete Wardell, who also led the New Zealand Team at Vancouver 2010, said facilities and infrastructure were outstanding.
The venues are simply spectacular and the organisers are on track. In Olympic Park the grass is being laid and, nearby, the apartments in the athletes village are being furnished. The massive transport projects joining the coastal and mountain clusters are taking shape.
The facilities and infrastructure for Sochi 2014 are being constructed from scratch especially for the Olympic Games.
While the venues themselves are in good shape, the weather is not playing its part up in the Mountain Cluster of Krasnaya Polyana. With unexpectedly warm conditions the slopestyle test events have been called off.
Wardell explained that the organisers are storing tonnes of snow in warehouses ahead of next years Olympic Games and have elected to keep their contingency on ice.
Fortunately, however, the FIS World Cup halfpipe events are still scheduled to take place and the Kiwi park and pipe team are set to arrive later this week.
Joining the New Zealand park and pipe team en route to Sochi will be young freeski star Beau-James Wells who at just 17 years of age has been performing to an outstanding level at Platinum class events. He finished tenth at the recent Sprint US Grand Prix halfpipe freeskiing competition.
At the Sanki sliding centre, also in the Mountain Cluster, New Zealanders Katherine Eustace and Ben Sandford are also underway with competition. The Kiwis finished tenth and eleventh consecutively at last weeks Skeleton World Championships in St Moritz.
New Zealand expects to field a team of between 20 and 25 athletes at Sochi 2014 with a strong contingent of medal hopefuls competing in the exciting new freeski slopestyle and halfpipe and snowboard slopestyle events which will be included on the Olympic schedule for the first time in 2014. Alpine ski racing, cross country skiing, skeleton racing, curling and long track speed skating are also on the cards.
New Zealand will target its second Olympic Winter medal at Sochi 2014.
The Sochi Olympic Winter Games take place 7 February 16 February 2014.
New Zealand has won just one Olympic Winter medal. Annelise Coberger took silver in alpine skiing in Albertville in 1992.
For further information please contact:
New Zealand Olympic Committee
M +64 21 552 021
T +64 9 375 0040