It may not be Cool Runnings but there is still something exotic about Ireland being represented at the Winter Olympics but that’s what will unfold over the coming weeks as our final team of five competitors take to the slopes and the pipes in Pyeongchang
Alpine Skiers Tess Arbez and Patrick McMillian, Cross Country Skier, Thomas Westgard, Half Pipe Skier, Bubba Newby and Snowboarder Seamus O’Connor were yesterday confirmed by the Olympic Council of Ireland as the five athletes who have qualified to represent Ireland at the Winter Olympic Games being held from the 9th to 25th February.
Team Ireland gathered in Dublin yesterday for a series of briefings on the Olympic experience, anti-doping, media training and the Olympic Participation Agreement which all athletes have to sign and adhere to while at the Games.
The sessions were held jointly by the Olympic Council of Ireland and Sport Ireland and there was one extra element with the team meeting an Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.
“For Ireland to have five athletes taking part in the 2018 Winter Olympics is a great achievement,” he said.
“Competing in your chosen field at an Olympic Games is the ultimate goal for any athlete; getting this far is a personal triumph for each sportsperson.”
“Tess, Patrick, Thomas, Bubba and Seamus have shown great dedication, tenacity and a lot of talent to qualify for the Games and on behalf of all of us in Ireland, I wish them the very best of luck as they take on the world’s best snow sport athletes in PyeongChang in the coming weeks.”
The Team fly out to PyeongChang this morning, allowing them a full week to prepare, train and acclimatise to conditions ahead of the opening ceremony on the 9th February. For each of these athletes, reaching the Winter Olympics is the culmination of an arduous four-year campaign.
The athletes who qualified to represent Ireland are:
French born Tess Arbez (Alpine Skier- Slalom and Giant Slalom) who represented Ireland at the 2017 Alpine World Championships;
Patrick McMillian (Alpine Combined, Super-G & Downhill) born in Letterkenny and currently living and training in Austria, Switzerland, he has represented Ireland at the 2015 and 2017 Alpine World Championships;
Thomas Westgard (Cross Country Ski) Norwegian born, who represented Ireland at the 2017 FIS Nordic World Championships;
Bubba Newby (Free Ski – Half-Pipe) born in Ireland, but currently lives and trains in Utah, USA, finished 25th at the FIS World Championship in 2017;
Seamus O’Connor (Snowboarding – Half-Pipe) American born, he competed for Ireland at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.
“I am delighted that Ireland has five athletes representing and competing for Ireland at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang,” said President of the Olympic Council of Ireland, Sarah Keane.
“That every member of Team Ireland has qualified for the first time by achieving the “A” qualification standard is a testament to their talent and dedication as well as the hard work and support provided by Snow Sports Ireland, its members and volunteers.”
“I want to thank the athletes, their families and Snow Sports Ireland for their commitment and contribution to the Irish Olympic Movement.”
“On behalf of all of us involved with the OCI, we wish Bubba, Patrick, Tess, Thomas and Seamus the very best of luck in PyeongChang, we hope they perform to the best of their ability and they enjoy their Olympic experience.”
Sport for Business will carry a number of features around the commercial side of the Winter Olympics over the coming weeks. Our coverage of the Games is supported by our friends at 53 Degrees North, Ireland’s Adventure Store with outlets in Blanchardstown and Carrickmines in Dublin and in Cork.
Image Credit: Ramsey Cardy, Sportsfile