New Zealand’s future winter sports stars are heading to Lausanne ahead of the third edition of the Winter Youth Olympic Games.
The New Zealand Team for Lausanne 2020 is made up of 20 athletes, all aged between 14-18.
The Kiwi athletes will compete across nine different disciplines at the Games, which run from January 9-22 in Lausanne, Switzerland and in areas of nearby France.
Above: Luge athlete Ella Cox in action
The New Zealand Team will be led by Chef de Mission Jesse Teat, who competed in Alpine Skiing at the Salt Lake 2002 Winter Olympic Games. Teat also led the New Zealand Team at the previous edition of the Winter Youth Olympic Games, Lillehammer 2016.
He says the Games present a brilliant development opportunity for the exciting athletes.
“Lausanne 2020 will give these young athletes the opportunity to grow their skills and test themselves against some of the best young sportspeople from around the world,” said Teat.
“The Games are also about developing the athletes as people, so we’ll be taking advantage of learning opportunities which will benefit our team as their careers progress.
“Most of the athletes will also compete in mixed nation events, allowing them to compete alongside athletes from all over the world and make some new friends.”
The youngest Kiwi athletes is ice hockey player Jack Lewis who will be 14 years, seven months and seven days on the opening day of the Games. Teammate and freeski athlete Ben Barclay is the oldest of the New Zealanders at 17 years, 11 months and five days.
Above: Speed skater Ethan de Rose
The Winter Youth Olympic Games is run by the International Olympic Committee and will be the third Winter Youth Games, following those in Innsbruck in 2012 and Lillehammer in 2016.
The New Zealand Team won a silver and bronze at Lillehammer 2016 and is aiming to win its first Winter Youth Olympic gold medal in Lausanne.
The Games are a pre-elite development opportunity for the world's most promising young athletes, allowing them to experience a multi-sport games environment while exposing them to learning and cultural opportunities.
Previous Winter Youth Olympic Games athletes who have gone on to further sporting success include Finn Bilous, Beau James Wells, Jackson Wells, Rakai Tait, Tiarn Collins and Piera Hudson.
Almost 2,000 athletes from 73 countries will compete at the Games.
The New Zealand Team for Lausanne 2020:
Katie Crawford – Alpine Skiing
Harrison Messenger – Alpine Skiing
Campbell Wright - Biathlon/Cross Country Skiing
William Becker (Ngāi Tahu) - Curling
Zoe Harman - Curling
Lucy Neilson - Curling
Hunter Walker - Curling
Ruby Andrews - Freestyle Skiing
Ben Barclay - Freestyle Skiing
Luca Harrington - Freestyle Skiing
Max McDonald (Ngāpuhi) - Freestyle Skiing
Katya Blong - Ice Hockey
Tallulah Bryant (Ngāti Kahungunu) - Ice Hockey
Caleb Chapman - Ice Hockey
Jack Lewis - Ice Hockey
Axel Ruski-Jones - Ice Hockey
Hunter Burke - Luge
Ella Cox - Luge
Ethan De Rose - Short Track Skating
Mitchell Davern - Snowboard