15 Jan 2016

Another six athletes named for Youth Winter Olympics

3:24 pm on 15 January 2016

Another six athletes have been selected in the New Zealand team for the Youth Olympic Winter Games in Norway next month.

New Zealand freeskier Jackson Wells.

New Zealand freeskier Jackson Wells. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

They'll compete in snowboard, freeski and alpine skiing.

Jackson Wells (freeski), Finn Bilous (freeski), Tiarn Collins (snowboard), Rakai Tait (snowboard), Jackson Rich (alpine skiing) and Elizabeth Reid (alpine skiing) have joined Holly Thompson (Curling), Benjamin Smith (Curling), Courtney Smith (Curling), Matthew Neilson (Curling) and Oliver Curtis (Individual Skills Ice Hockey) in the final team of 11 athletes to compete in Lillehammer.

1,100 young athletes from the age of 14 to 18 from 70 nations will compete in 70 medal events across 15 winter disciplines.

Snow Sports New Zealand Director of Coach and Sport Development, Adam Dooney says they are thrilled for the latest six athletes selected.

"They have all worked hard and deserve to represent New Zealand at the event. The qualification period has been long and tough. All of the athletes that set out to be considered for selection have performed with distinction and have pushed each other and themselves to the limits of their performance," Dooney said.

"The Snow Sports NZ selectors are confident the selected athletes will do themselves, their sport and their country proud in Lillehammer."

Ashley Light, Snow Sports New Zealand Performance Director says the Youth Olympic Winter Games are an important step in the highly competitive world of Olympic Winter sport.

"The Youth Olympic Games is a great opportunity for developing athletes to experience the unique Olympic environment, to gain a small insight into what it might take to become an Olympian in the future," Light said.

"We are sure we will see many of the athletes performing at the Olympic games in the next four to eight years."

Jackson Wells (Wanaka), brother of Olympians Jossi, Byron and Beau-James Wells, has had some solid results over the past year placing 2nd in the Continental Cup, 4th at the Junior World Champs and most recently 4th in the Copper Mountain Rev Tour. Wells says the Youth Olympic Winter Games are a crucial opportunity moving forward.

"I'm really proud to have been named in the team to Lillehammer," Wells said.

"My brother Beau-James went to the Youth Winter Olympic Games in Innsbruck and said it was great preparation, both mentally and physically for the games in Sochi. Selection for the team to Lillehammer will help me achieve my goal of competing at an Olympic Winter Games.