Australia names strong team of 45 for Pyeongchang
SYDNEY (AP) — World champions Britt Cox and Scotty James headline Australia’s 45-strong team named Thursday to compete at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.
Moguls champion Cox and snowboard halfpipe champion James have been included alongside Alex Pullin, world No. 1 in snowboard cross, and Lydia Lassila and David Morris, who were aerial medalists at the 2014 Sochi games.
But snowboard halfpipe star Torah Bright, who won gold in 2010 at Vancouver and silver in 2014 at Sochi has been omitted after her qualifying campaign was delayed by injury. Bright finished 15th and eighth at recent World Cup events as she struggled to overcome a wrist injury.
Emily Arthur and Holly Crawford, who will compete at her fourth games, have claimed the two available spots in the women’s halfpipe ahead of the 31-year-old Bright.
Bright tweeted “cheering from the sidelines. Sadly after sustaining a few injuries I will not be able to compete at the upcoming Olympics. Life is full of little setbacks but I’m excited about what lies ahead.”
James supported the view that the team named on Thursday is the strongest Australia has sent to a winter games.
“With respect to the two previous teams that I have been selected on, I think that this team promises so much not only in Pyeongchang, but into the future,” James said. “We have many athletes doing really amazing things, who are competitive on the world stage almost every week of the season and the standard of their preparation just gets better.”
Lasilla, who has won gold and silver medals in World Cup events this season and is one of 17 team members to have reached the podium during the winter season, will compete at her fifth games.
Snowboarders Belle Brockhoff and Jessica Rich and freeskier Russ Henshaw have been selected subject to medical clearance. Brockhoff has only recently returned to the slopes after surgery on a ruptured knee ligament, suffered in a training crash late last year.
“The team is a great cross-section of sports on the winter program which is important to the Australian Olympic Committee,” chef de mission Ian Chesterman said. “Having taken a really young team to Sochi, there are a number of returning Olympians who will benefit from that experience while there are also a number of Olympic debutants that are the future of their sports.
“This is the best-performed team that we’ve taken to an Olympic Games with a large number of athletes who have established that they are amongst the very best in their sports globally.”