The New Zealand Olympic Committee has reappointed Olympic Winter Games Chef de Mission Pete Wardell for PyeongChang 2018.

NZOC CEO Kereyn Smith was delighted to confirm Pete Wardells appointment.

"Pete did a superb job at the Winter Olympics in Sochi 2014 and Vancouver 2010.   The feedback on his leadership from the team members and stakeholders was outstanding. He has exceptional skills in developing a strong culture and cohesion amongst the team, and leads with purpose and energy. He will chair the leadership group that will get underway by the end of 2014."

We talked to Pete about his appointment, his experiences as Chef de Mission for the Olympic Winter Games and what the role entails.

Q: Congratulations on your appointment  Pete, How does it feel to be leading the Winter Olympic Team forward towards PyeongChang 2018?

A: It's another fantastic opportunity to be part of a passionate group of Kiwi athletes and professional support staff, wearing the rings and silver fern. It's a great honour. 

Im committed to helping our team deliver in a high performance environment and help our athletes achieve their goals on the worlds stage. With every Olympic Games the competition gets tougher and we can expect a step up at Pyeongchang, particularly in the new Olympic freeski and snowboarding events.

I also know little about Korea so I'm very much looking forward to spending time in their country and learning of their culture, I know their food is superb! 

Q: What is the role of the Chef both pre and during Games?

A: As a friend once said, the CDM does everything except cook!,

While the 2018 Games are some time away, there is a massive amount of planning and preparation before we arrive there as the New Zealand Olympic Team.

We would expect to visit the Games site at least three times prior to the Games so that myself and the support team are totally familiar with the locale, the administration and, most importantly, that we have made good friends within the local organising committee these people can really help us deliver an environment that helps our athletes achieve.

I will have a strong role leading up to the Games in liaison with the Winter National Sporting Organisations (NSO's) as their athletes prepare. Our leadership and planning teams get underway towards the end of this year. Within these groups well be ensuring everyone is familiar with the Olympic Games environment, the challenges it will bring and the specific performance needs of our athletes. Its also about building a strong team culture.

By the time we get to the Games, my role becomes one of leadership. I also keep a close connection with the Games organisers, sort any issues and work with the media to tell our stories.

Q: You were the Chef de Mission in Sochi, could you please share your experiences with us, what was it like? 

A: Sochi was just brilliant.

While we just missed that elusive goal of a podium, we were oh so close. The team delivered a strong campaign that has delivered 11 top 16 finishes, including four top eight Olympic Diplomas. This was the best result for a New Zealand Olympic Winter team since Albertville in '92 when Annelise Coberger won silver.

The Russian people put on a fantastic games, they were warm, friendly and delivered everything promised. Sochi is in the far south of Russia so there was a marked contrast between the coastal village and the mountain villages which were spectacularly perched deep into the mountains. We were also fortunate to have wonderful weather and snow conditions for the bulk of the games.

The support crew was also brilliant and I believe created a very positive environment for our athletes to live and compete in, certainly the independent feedback was highly positive.

Being part of the New Zealand team entering the Opening Ceremony was a spine tingling experience, something you never forget, so proud to be a New Zealander and part of the incredible Olympic Games

It was all so good -  it was sad when it all finished! 

Q: What was your highlight of the games? 

Being part of the New Zealand team, cheering on Kiwi athletes and seeing them mix it with the best in the world!

Q: What can we expect PyeongChang to be like? 

Podium finishes are a realistic target and our job will be to ensure the environment, preparation is delivered to a very high standard and will help our athletes achieve.  

Every games is different  and that be a significant part of my role, knowing what that differences there will be well before we get there.   

Korea put on a wonderful games when they held the summer Olympics, I'm sure that PyeongChang will be even better! Already planning is well advanced and early reports from the coordination commissions are positive.

Q: What do you love about winter sports Is it the culture, the sports themselves etc?

Snow, mountains, ice, freedom, exhilaration, adrenalin, danger, skill, athleticism, crisp cold air, laid back professionals, strength, there is nothing like it! 

Q: How did you come to be Chef de Mission?

I was fortunate to take over as Chef de Mission for Vancouver 2010 a few months ahead of the Opening Ceremony after the appointed withdrew for personal reasons. Since then I was very fortunate to be appointed Chef de Mission for the Youth Commonwealth Games in the Isle of Mann, the Youth Olympic Winter Games in Innsbruck, Austria , the World University Games in Kazan, Russia, and the Sochi Olympic Winter Games. It takes up a lot of time, but there is nothing so rewarding as being part of a top level sporting environment. 

Q: Finally how do people view New Zealanders at the games? And what does it feel like to be part of the New Zealand team?

Just amazing! New Zealand is held in such high regard by virtually everyone you meet, they really do seem to love us!

We do spend a lot of time creating a "uniquely NZ "  flavour for our team, probably more than other teams do, and this is something that New Zealanders seem to fully embrace as soon as they are on foreign soils.

Being part of the New Zealand team is just inspiring for me, it's a mix of pride, honour, delight and excitement to be there and rub shoulders with our athletes and support team. They have all given a huge amount to get there, for what is for them to the greatest sporting event in the world - the Olympic Games.


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