Reigning 2023 Snowboard Slopestyle Junior World Champion Lucia Georgalli and 2023 Junior World Championship Freeski Slopestyle bronze medallist Mischa Thomas are among the first exciting tranche of athletes named to the New Zealand Team for the Gangwon 2024 Winter Youth Olympic Games.
“Finding out I was selected for the Youth Olympic Team made me feel really stoked," said Lucia.
"I am excited to experience the Olympic village and meet other athletes from all around world. Winning Junior World Champs earlier this year was an important moment in my career and gives me a lot of confidence going into the Youth Olympic Games.”
Joining Lucia (Wānaka, 16, Snowboard Slopestyle and Big Air) are snowboarders Campbell Melville Ives (Wānaka, 17, Snowboard Halfpipe), Txema Mazet-Brown (Raglan, 17, Snowboard Slopestyle and Big Air), Ava Beer (Te Anau, 15, Snowboard Slopestyle and Big Air), and Joshua Li (Auckland, 13, Snowboard Slopestyle and Big Air) who will be the youngest snow sports athlete on the team and one of the youngest athletes at the Games, with his birthday just inside the qualifying date range.
The snowboarders will be joined by six freeskiers. Mischa Thomas (Auckland, 15), Luke Harrold (Lake Hawea, 15), Fergus McArthur (Auckland, 17) and Madeleine Disbrowe (Queenstown, 15) will all compete in Freeski Slopestyle and Big Air, while Finley Melville Ives (Wānaka, 17) and Liam Richards (Auckland, 15) will contest Freeski Halfpipe.
Mischa explained; “It feels pretty insane to be selected to represent New Zealand at the Winter Youth Olympic Games in January. It has been a goal of mine to get selected for the Games for over a year, so I am very excited and super honoured to wear the fern for the first time in my career.”
Rounding out today’s selection is Ski Cross athlete Campbell Appel (17, Freestyle Ski Cross).
The freestyle ski and snowboard selections are conditional on receiving an official FIS (International Ski Federation) quota place for the games.
The first group of athletes selected to represent New Zealand at Gangwon 2024 have recorded a slew of incredible results over the past twelve-months. In addition to the 2023 Junior World Championship podiums, Finley Melville Ives has achieved two sixth place finishes at World Cup level, Luke Harrold has claimed numerous European and North American Cup podiums and Ava Beer rode her way to a second-place finish at the World Rookie Tour Finals.
New Zealand Olympic Committee CEO Nicki Nicol extended her congratulations to the athletes.
“We’re really pleased to have begun naming our team for Gangwon and are excited at the potential of these young athletes,” said Nicol.
“I had the pleasure of seeing many of them in action at Winter Games NZ earlier this year and I’m looking forward to seeing them show the world what they can do early next year.”
Snow Sports NZ CEO Nic Cavanagh also congratulated the athletes.
“On behalf of Snow Sports NZ and the entire snow sports community, I’d like to congratulate the athletes selected today to represent New Zealand at the Winter Youth Olympic Games. These athletes represent the future of our sport, and we wish them all the best as they continue to grow New Zealand’s reputation as a dominant force in the disciplines of freestyle skiing and snowboarding," said Cavanagh.
"Following multiple podium success at this year’s FIS Junior World Championships, these athletes are ranked amongst the best age group athletes for their chosen disciplines. We look forward to them wearing the fern and representing New Zealand with pride when they compete in South Korea.”
Cooper Breen (13, Freeski Halfpipe), Hamish Barlow (17, Freeski Slopestyle and Big Air), and Sylvia Trotter (16, Freeski Slopestyle and Big Air) have been named as reserves.
Further Gangwon 2024 selections will take place ahead of the Games with alpine athletes still working towards nomination.
The Winter Youth Olympic Games will take place in Gangwon, South Korea from January 19 – February 1, 2024.
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