Hackett new name among snowsports athletes for Olympics

Celebrating their selection are (from left) Zoi Sadowski-Synnott, Margaux Hackett, Alice Robinson...
Celebrating their selection are (from left) Zoi Sadowski-Synnott, Margaux Hackett, Alice Robinson, Finn Bilous, and Nico Porteous at Cardrona Alpine Resort yesterday. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES
Five Wanaka and Queenstown-based snowsports athletes have been named in the first group of athletes selected for the Beijing Winter Olympics in February.

Olympians Nico Porteous, Zoe Sadowski-Synnott, Finn Bilous and Alice Robinson have been joined by newcomer Margaux Hackett in the New Zealand Winter Olympics team named at an event at Cardrona skifield yesterday.

The first five athletes have all gained top results in recent world-class competitions.

Wanaka-based freeskiers Porteous (19, halfpipe) and Sadowski-Synnott (20, slopestyle, big air) are reigning world champions in their disciplines and bronze medallists from the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics.

Queenstown’s Robinson (19) has had a meteoric rise through the world junior alpine skier ranks to become the country’s top alpine skier and a three-time World Cup winner in giant slalom.

She competed at PyeongChang aged 16, finishing the giant slalom 35th out of a field of 81.

She is keen to finish on the Olympic podium this time.

"I’ve grown a lot as a person and as an athlete over the past four years," she said.

"PyeongChang was a fantastic experience for me and I learnt a lot from it.

"I’ve made a lot of gains since then and I’m really looking forward to Beijing and I’ll be doing everything I can to get on the podium," Robinson said.

When slopestyle and big air exponent Bilous (21), of Wanaka, competed at PyeongChang, the big air event was not on the programme.

It debuts in Beijing, giving Bilous an extra podium to aim for.

Bilous was 13th out of 30 in freeski slopestyle, a discipline he won a bronze medal in at the 2016 World Youth Olympic Games.

In 2018, Bilous was New Zealand Winter Games World Cup big air bronze medallist.

Hackett (22) is the daughter of bungy-jump entrepreneur A.J. Hackett and was a junior ski racer in France, where she spent her earlier years.

The Wanaka-based athlete now competes in freeski slopestyle and big air and has amassed numerous top 10 results in world-class international events.

New Zealand Olympic Committee chief executive Kereyn Smith said the athletes had worked hard to earn selection.

“It’s great to be naming Olympic medallists and world champions in our first Winter Olympic selection and we’re thrilled there is so much young talent coming through the ranks.

“We are looking forward to watching these athletes represent our nation and add to our proud Olympic legacy as they earn the fern in Beijing next year,” Smith said.

Snow Sports NZ high performance director and chief executive Nic Cavanagh said the athletes were "world-class" performers.

Yesterday’s selections are conditional on International Ski Federation quota confirmation.

New Zealand’s top Snow Sports athletes will be heading to the northern hemisphere in coming weeks to continue training and work towards qualification and nomination.

The Olympic Winter Games are in Beijing, China from February 4-20, 2022.

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