Imagine being an elite athlete, competing in front of 60,000 spectators.
“It’s a pretty cool feeling,” says alpine ski racer Willis Feasey. That’s right, NZ, we’re talking ski racing here – not rugby.
Willis is preparing to compete at the PyeongChang 2018 Games, along with fellow ski racers Adam Barwood and Alice Robinson. These are three of the most talented ski racers New Zealand has ever seen. Granted, they’re not (yet) household names like McCaw or Carter but, rest assured, they’ve earned the fern.
They’ve met tough selection criteria to be at the Games, leaving New Zealand back in October in order to compete on the World Cup circuit in Europe and North America in the build up to the Games.
“The Europeans take it pretty seriously,” explains Willis.
“You go to a World Cup race in Austria, Switzerland and Italy and have between 10,000 and 60,000 spectators show up and cheer for you.”
Competing on the Olympic stage can be daunting, but previous experience racing in front of huge crowds is helping the Kiwi athletes manage that pressure. Our youngest Winter Olympian, 16-year-old Alice Robinson says, “It’s exciting to be here. I’m getting used to the environment, it’s not too daunting.
“I think I can keep it all pretty calm for the Games and just focus on the task and not get too distracted by everything that’s going on.”
The skiers are also familiar with the race hill, which helps with the preparation.
“We came here last year for the test event so that was a very good way to get used to the snow and the hill and the general environment,” explains Adam Barwood.
So, New Zealand, our skiers are ready to race. Even if you’re not lucky enough to be joining the thousands of spectators in PyeongChang, make sure you’re ready to cheer them on!PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games Adam Barwood Willis Feasey Alice Robinson