More Otago athletes named in Winter Olympic team

A further eight snow sport athletes have been named to the New Zealand Team for the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games. The additions more than double the snow sport contingent of the team, with 13 snow sports athletes now set to represent New Zealand in Beijing next month.

Sixteen-year-old Gustav Legnavsky will be the youngest member of the team, competing in freeski halfpipe. He will be joined by Ben Harrington (20) and Miguel Porteous (22) in the men's freeski halfpipe, along with already selected Nico Porteous. All four athletes are based in Wanaka.

As the youngest athlete on the team, Legnavsky watched the PyeongChang 2018 Olympics as a 12-year-old.

"It's amazing, this time last year it was only a dream. It's going to be surreal to be wearing the fern, I have been wanting to have the New Zealand fern on my arm and compete for my country," said Legnavsky.

"I have been 100 percent inspired by Nico, he was my age when he went to PyeongChang and did really well. It would be cool to keep that legacy going on".

This will be an Olympic debut for Legnavsky and Harrington, while Miguel Porteous represented New Zealand at the PyeongChang 2018 Games.

Queenstown's Tiarn Collins (22) will be competing in the men's snowboard slopestyle and big air. Collins was selected for the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games but an injury in training just days before the slopestyle qualifiers forced him to withdraw from the remainder of the Games. He heads into the Games in top form, having claimed bronze in the men's slopestyle at Mammoth Mountain World Cup earlier this month.

He's joined by teammate and fellow Queenstown resident Cool Wakushima (19) who will be competing in the women's snowboard slopestyle and big air.

"When I found out I had been selected I was excited, I just couldn't wait to tell my family. I am incredibly proud to drop into the Olympic events wearing the fern, I am really proud to be able to represent New Zealand," said Wakushima.

"During the qualification period, I just focused on landing good runs and getting good results, I put a lot of work into the quality of my riding and knew the Olympics would come if I worked hard enough."

Wakushima is "stoked" to be riding alongside Zoi Sadowski-Synnott, in Beijing.

"I've always been inspired by Zoi and I am so excited to be on the team with her. Zoi inspired me to compete on the world stage, so it's awesome to be her Winter Olympic teammate."

Ben Barclay (19) is also in hot form, claiming silver in the France Freeski Slopestyle World Cup earlier this week to cement his Olympic spot. He will be competing in freeski slopestyle and big air at his first Olympic Winter Games appearance.

Freeski halfpipe athletes Chloe McMillan (21) and Anja Barugh (22) complete the team.

"It is fantastic to have eight additional snow sports athletes selected to the team today", said Nic Cavanagh, Snow Sports NZ CEO and High Performance Director.

"These athletes have worked exceptionally hard in a challenging environment and I couldn't be more pleased for them".

"We are sending an incredibly strong team to Beijing and I'm really looking forward to seeing them in action on the world's biggest stage".

The athletes will join their snow sports teammates Alice Robinson, Zoi Sadowski-Synnott, Nico Porteous, Margaux Hackett and Finn Bilous, all of Otago, who were named to the New Zealand Team last year. All snow sports athletes have now had their Winter Olympic quota spots made unconditional.

The naming takes the total number of athletes in the New Zealand Team for Beijing to 14, with a final opportunity for selection to take place within the next week.

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