Five young snowsport athletes will represent Ireland at the Sochi Winter Olympic Games which commence in nine days time in Russia (Feb 7th).
Team Ireland is:
Florence Bell (women’s downhill slalom & giant slalom),
Conor Lyne (men’s downhill slalom & giant slalom),
Sean Greenwood (skeleton),
Jan Rossiter (skiing cross country) and
Seamus O’Connor (snowboarding – half pipe & slopestyle).
The team is being led by Chef de Mission Stephen Martin.
Making the official team announcement, Pat Hickey, President of the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) said that the growing popularity of winter sports in Ireland and with the Irish diaspora abroad was now being reflected in Ireland’s participation in the Winter Olympics.
“We now have many excellent Irish athletes achieving the very tough Winter Olympic qualification standards all over the world and Team Ireland for Sochi is a good example of the Irish talent that is out there. We wish the 2014 Irish team every success in Sochi.
“The OCI also congratulates Snowsports Ireland and the Irish Bobsleigh Association for their ongoing support for these fine young Olympians”, he added.
Stephen Martin, Team Ireland’s Chef de Mission said that Team Ireland would be one of over 80 countries competing in Sochi. “We expect the Games to be an important milestone in the development of Irish winter Olympic talent and are confident of excellent individual performances in the face of severe competition from the Alpine nations”.
The OCI through its Olympic Solidarity programme has supported preparations for the Sochi Games over the past three years to help athletes to qualify for the Games.
Team Ireland will be wearing a range of competition wear provided to the OCI by key sponsor New Balance plus a range of technical gear.
There will be 16 days of Olympic events in 10 competition centres in Sochi, featuring almost 2,800 competitors. In total, there will be 98 medal events – the most ever at a Winter Olympics, including 12 new events.
TEAM IRELAND BIOS
FLORENCE BELL – DOWNHILL SLALOM & GIANT SLALOM
Florence (Flo) is almost 18 and was born in Birmingham. She comes from a Northern Ireland family and took up ski racing at age 12.
Within six months she became Yorkshire, Scottish and British Indoor Champion and was then crowned European Indoor Champion.
At 13 she commenced outdoor training and joined the British Ski Academy based in France. In 2009 she was selected for the British Children’s Ski Team and represented Great Britain in races in Europe and New Zealand.
Florence then joined her sister Victoria in declaring for Ireland and has continued to race for Ireland in premier events in Europe, New Zealand, Australia and Japan in the build-up to the Sochi Winter Olympics.
She represented Ireland at the first ever World Youth Winter Olympic Games in Innsbruck, Austria in 2012 and at the 2013 European Youth Winter Olympics in Romania.
CONOR LYNE – DOWNHILL SLALOM & GIANT SLALOM
Conor makes his Winter Olympic debut in Sochi at age 21.
When not competing around the world – from Europe to New Zealand – he lives in Logan, Utah, near the famous Beaver Mountain ski resort.
His father is John Lyne from Brandon, Tralee, Co. Kerry and his mother Anna hails from Hospital, Co. Limerick.
Conor maintains strong links with Co. Kerry and is a regular visitor to Brandon. He has also worked in Dublin restaurants as a waiter/server during his student breaks.
Conor has competed for Ireland at the last two Skiing World Championships (Germany 2011 and Austria 2013).
All his family are involved in skiing and his younger brother Sean competed for Ireland at the European Youth Olympics in Brasov, Romania in 2013. Conor is also an avid golf, GAA and soccer fan.
SEAMUS O’CONNOR – SNOWBOARD HALF PIPE & SLOPESTYLE
Seamus, at age 16, is creating quite a stir in the snowboarding world since he declared for Ireland and set his eyes on the Sochi Winter Olympic Games.
Seamus’s grandparents came from Drogheda and Dublin. His father Kevin grew up in England, and has spent the last 30 years in the US. Seamus was born there.
His mother Elena comes from Siberia, not too far from Sochi, so he will have some strong family support at the Games.
Seamus was raised in San Diego, California and the O’Connor family moved to Park City, Utah to avail of the snowboarding facilities in the region.
He was twice European Junior Half-Pipe champion at age 12 and is one of the hottest prospects in the stunning world of snowboarding.
Seamus already has some major sponsors behind him and is a full-time professional, training in Colorado.
SEAN GREENWOOD – SKELETON
Born in Vancouver, Sean, age 26, grew up in Western Canada and partly on the west coast of Ireland.
His mother, Sibéal Foyle (Ní Fhoighíl) emigrated to Canada from Galway in the early 1980’s and maintains deep family connections in Ireland. His father is Canadian, a chartered business valuator. Sean started skeleton racing in 2008 following a sporting career in competitive rugby.
After gaining a BA in Economics from the University of Calgary, he decided to take the opportunity to slide at the site of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Whistler BC, on the world’s fastest skeleton track.
A commercial helicopter pilot, Sean is based in Whistler, Canada working on fitness, sled preparation and general racing experience in order to compete for Team Ireland for four runs against the best in the world.
To date, Sean has performed impressively, winning gold, silver and bronze medals in the North America’s Cup in Whistler and New York’s Lake Placid, and at the Elektro Melcher competitions in San Moritz. Switzerland. He recently gained a World Cup spot as a result of his 2012-13 season and is currently ranked 25th in the world.
JAN ROSSITER – CROSS COUNTRY SKIING
Jan, age 26, was born in Cork to an Irish father and Czech mother.
He grew up in Kingston, Ontario -a town with no ski club.
While completing a degree in Physiology at McGill University, Montreal he was introduced to cross country ski racing.
He then moved to Ottawa to complete a programme in respiratory therapy at Algonquin College.
His skiing accomplishments include being named MVP of the McGill University’s Nordic Ski team, coaching this team in 2009/2010, and completing the Canadian Ski Marathon – Coureur des Bois Gold – three times.
He has worked in the past as a cross country ski, canoe, kayak and backpacking instructor and holds numerous certifications in these disciplines.
Jan lives in Kingston, Ontario and speaks English, Czech and French. .