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Australia expects to send largest team to Sochi

October 30, 2013

SYDNEY (AP) — Australia expects to send its largest Winter Olympics team of 55 athletes to Sochi in February, including 2010 gold medalists Torah Bright in women’s snowboard halfpipe and Lydia Lassila in aerials.

With 100 days to go until the Feb. 7 opening ceremony at the Russian Black Sea resort, Australian chef de mission Ian Chesterman said the country hopes to have a top-15 finish in the medal count and win at least four medals.

Chesterman also said that Australia’s Olympic team will have an alcohol ban in the Sochi athletes’ village, similar to the one announced for the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro.

He said while drunkenness hadn’t been an issue among Australia’s Winter Olympians in the past, the “time is right” to impose such restrictions.

It follows the Australian Olympic Committee’s decision last week to make the team’s quarters at the Rio athletes’ village and the flight back to Sydney a dry zone in 2016 in a bid to prevent the same kinds of problems caused by partying athletes, mostly swimmers, who disrupted teammates at last year’s London Olympics.

“We’re taking the same move in Sochi from an Olympic village point of view,” Chesterman said. “We want to give every athlete the opportunity to prepare and perform at their best, and we believe that’s best achieved by taking the alcohol issue out of the village.”

Australia’s previous biggest Winter Olympic team was 40 athletes at both Vancouver in 2010 and Turin in 2006.

Two-time Summer Games hurdler Jana Pittman is hoping to be selected as a brakewoman on the bobsled which could make her the first Australian woman to be a summer and winter Olympian.

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