Five NZ athletes to watch at Sochi Winter Olympics
Tuesday 7 Jan 2014 7:40 a.m.
Jossi Wells (photosport file)
Five NZ athletes to watch at the Sochi Winter Olympics:
* Jossi Wells (freeski slopestyle): New Zealand's highest-achieving freeskier, winning X Games halfpipe silver (2010) and slopestyle (2008) and X Games Big Air bronze (2012). The 23-year-old has been dogged by chronic patella tendinopathy, but stem cell therapy last year has had encouraging results.
* Lyndon Sheehan (freeski halfpipe): fourth at last year's Winter Games in Cardrona, 12th in last month's Copper Mountain World Cup after qualifying fifth for the final. The Australia-born Sheehan, 25, is finding form at the right time.
* Janina Kuzma (freeski halfpipe): Kuzma's first love lies with big mountain skiing, but despite qualifying for last year's presitigious Freeride World Tour, the 27-year-old opted instead to focus on building her halfpipe repertoire. Finished 13th in last month's Copper Mountain World Cup.
* Anna Willcox-Silfverberg (freeski slopestyle): from a well-known New Zealand sailing family, Willcox-Silfverberg is a relative newcomer to slopestyle, but the 21-year-old is a quick learner. Has a top World Cup finish of third from Spain last year, and is working her way into solid form with a top-20 finish at Copper Mountain.
*Ben Sandford (skeleton): hugely experienced racer, who will be competing in his third Olympics in Sochi. Best Kiwi finisher at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver with 16th, 34-year-old Sandford also picked up a bronze medal at the 2012 world championships in Lake Placid.