For one Kiwi Winter Olympic hopeful, the Winter Games has been a big leap toward her goal.
Snowboard halfpipe competitor Rebecca ‘Bex’ Sinclair was competing for the first time since a major knee injury – and made the semi-finals of the World Cup contest at Cardrona last Saturday.
Overall, she finished 14th to propel her world ranking back into the crucial top 30, which triggers an NZ qualification spot at next year’s Olympics in Russia.
Now the 21-year-old from Wanaka – who came 21st at the previous Olympics in 2010 – needs to keep it there to ensure her place.
Sinclair will head to three more qualifying events in Finland and the United States in December, and Canada in January.
However, competing and going for ranking points at home at the Games makes life so much easier.
“It’s awesome because when you’re travelling, you’re flying around and you have random accommodation – at home you don’t have any of that, you’re eating what you normally eat which for me is mum’s cooking, and I have my parents here who came to watch.
“And you’re trying that much harder because it’s your home town and you want to perform.”
Sinclair says the Winter Games organisers did an incredible job and the halfpipe at Cardrona was cut to perfection: “It was awesome for me.
“I was just hoping to land a run and now I’m back in the mix and it takes the pressure off a bit.”
New Zealand Winter Olympics team chef de mission Pete Wardell, in Queenstown and Wanaka for the Games, says it’s hoped 15 to 20 Kiwi athletes will qualify for the Winter Olympics.
“The Winter Games were a fantastic opportunity for our athletes to mix it with the world’s best.
“It also gives a bit of hype and you see a bit more hunger in the athletes’ eyes and they think if I really try I can get on that podium.”