In winter gear at Lake Wanaka are Snow Sports New Zealand staff (back, from left) adaptive manager Jane Stevens, chief executive Marty Toomey, communications manager Alex Kerr, finance manager Suzy Gendall and logistics manager Nic Cavanagh, with (front, from left) Stacey Wells (mother of snow sports athletes Jossi, Byron, Beau-James and Jackson), Jamie Kerr (8), Luke (5) and Bradley Gendall (7), and Piper Cavanagh (9). Photo by Lucy Ibbotson.
Ski boots and snow suits are not typical midsummer attire,
but for the Wanaka-based staff at Snow Sports New Zealand
(SSNZ), it seemed a fitting way to celebrate the one-year
countdown to the Winter Olympics.
Wrapped up in their winter wardrobe, SSNZ staff, family and
friends gathered for a photo shoot on the Wanaka lakefront
yesterday morning, to generate some excitement around next
Thursday, February 7 - one year to the day until the games
begin in Sochi, Russia.
SSNZ chief executive Marty Toomey said the year ahead was
crucial for the winter athletes, as the qualifying period for
the Olympics, which began in July 2012, was now in full
swing. More than 30 New Zealanders are chasing Olympic spots
at present, competing across free-ski and snowboard park and
pipe, skeleton racing, long track speed skating, alpine and
Most of the athletes base themselves in the Queenstown Lakes
district during the southern hemisphere winter. The inclusion
of half pipe and slopestyle skiing, and slopestyle snowboard
events in next year's Olympics was of major benefit for SSNZ,
as its park and pipe programme had the best medal prospects,
This year's Winter Games, held largely in the Queenstown
Lakes district from August 11 to 25, will be an important
qualifying opportunity for the athletes. Mr Toomey said it
was also a great opportunity for New Zealanders to see the
top Winter Olympic hopefuls in action, with about 1000 elite
athletes from 50 different countries competing.
SSNZ logistics manager Nic Cavanagh said a ''dummy'' Winter
Olympics in Sochi next week would give the athletes their
first look at the facilities and courses where they would
compete if their qualifying bid was successful.