Team Queenstown off to chase their Winter Olympics

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Vancouver, here we come.

That’s the word from Queenstown-based ski racing hopeful Tim Cafe and New Zealand men’s team coach Nils Coberger as they set out on a gruelling odyssey to the 2010 Winter Olympics.

The pair jetted to Auckland yesterday to hook up with team mates Ben Griffin from Ohakune and Wellington’s Angus Howden.

Next stop is their base in Piesendorf, Austria, where they’ll launch straight into two and a half months of fierce competition before hitting Vancouver in early February.

“The guys had better get used to eating wiener schnitzel for breakfast,” Coberger jokes. “There’s a lot of hard work to be done and there’ll be no time for après ski or a few beers in the pub on this trip.”

The team will be away for five months all in, returning to Europe for six more weeks of racing after the big one in Canada.

At their Austrian mountain HQ, a tough pre-Olympics regime mapped out by Coberger won’t be easy to hack.
A typical day will start by rising at 6am for two morning training sessions on the slopes.

This is followed by video analysis and gym work in the afternoon – evenings will be taken up preparing for the next day’s skiing.

In between, the team travels to top-flight competitions in Germany, France, Switzerland, Slovenia and Italy.
“I reckon we’ll cover about 25,000km in the van so it’s going to be full-on stuff,” Coberger says.

Cafe, 22, is going for glory in Super G and GS.

But he still has a bit to do to guarantee his place in Vancouver.

“At the moment I’m sitting around 230 in the world rankings in Super G and I need to improve on that a bit,” Cafe says. “We have 12 or 13 races before the Olympics and I need one good result in Europe and I’m there.
“My main focus is on Super G but if I get lucky and get some great results, I could qualify in GS too.”

Cafe reckons the long months spent overseas will be worth it.

“The main thing you sacrifice is the sun. Just as it starts getting nice in Queenstown, I’m off to Europe for the winter,” he says.

“I don’t think I’ve seen a summer for 10 years, but that’s OK because skiing is my passion.

“The Olympics is by far the biggest thing we’ll have done in our careers so. It’s what you dream about when you’re a kid.

“If I get there and finish in the top 30 I’ll be happy enough because I’m already looking ahead to the next games, which if all goes well is when I’d be at my peak.”

Coberger expects high-flying Griffin, 22, to qualify for Vancouver “no problem” in the GS and is “fully confident” fellow Queenstowner Cafe is on course too.

“Getting to the Olympics is part of this trip but it’s not the end goal. My job is to give the guys the skills and create an environment where they can perform to the best of their abilities.

“If they do that, I’ll be pleased with whatever finish they achieve.”