Monday, 29th January 2018: Alpine Skiers Tess Arbez and Patrick McMillian, Cross Country Skier, Thomas Westgard, Half Pipe Skier, Bubba Newby and Snowboarder Seamus O’Connor were today confirmed by the Olympic Council of Ireland (the “OCI”) as the five athletes who have qualified to represent Ireland at the Winter Olympic Games being held in PyeongChang, South Korea from the 9th to 25th February.
Team Ireland, who were gathered in Dublin today for a workshop, held jointly by the OCI and Sport Ireland were met by An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar who congratulated them on the achievement of being selected to represent Ireland at the Olympic Games.
The athletes who were presented with their Team Ireland competition kit today, were also briefed on all aspects of what it is like to compete at an Olympic Games; athletes completed a medical check, an anti-doping briefing, media training and were taken through the Olympic Participation Agreement that the International Olympic Committee require all athletes to sign to compete at the Games.
The Team will fly out to PyeongChang tomorrow morning, allowing them a full week to prepare, train and acclimatise to conditions ahead of the opening ceremony on the 9th February. For each of these athletes, reaching the Winter Olympics is the culmination of an arduous four-year campaign.
On the 24th of January, the International Ski Federation published the Olympic Qualification for each of the snow sport disciplines based on the world ranking list for each discipline. The athletes who qualified are French born Tess Arbez (Alpine Skier- Slalom and Giant Slalom) who represented Ireland at the 2017 Alpine World Championships; Patrick McMillian (Alpine Combined, Super-G & Downhill) born in Letterkenny and currently living and training in Austria, Switzerland, he has represented Ireland at the 2015 and 2017 Alpine World Championships; Thomas Westgard (Cross Country Ski) Norwegian born, who represented Ireland at the 2017 FIS Nordic World Championships; Bubba Newby (Free Ski – Half-Pipe) born in Ireland, but currently lives and trains in Utah, USA, finished 25th at the FIS World Championship in 2017 and Seamus O’Connor (Snowboarding – Half-Pipe) American born, he competed for Ireland at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.
An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar T.D. said: “For Ireland to have five athletes taking part in the 2018 Winter Olympics is a great achievement. Competing in your chosen field at an Olympic Games is the ultimate goal for any athlete; getting this far is a personal triumph for each sportsperson. Tess, Patrick, Thomas, Bubba and Seamus have shown great dedication, tenacity and a lot of talent to qualify for the Games and on behalf of all of us in Ireland, I wish them the very best of luck as they take on the world’s best snow sport athletes in PyeongChang in the coming weeks.”
President of the Olympic Council of Ireland, Sarah Keane said: “I am delighted that Ireland has five athletes representing and competing for Ireland at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang. That every member of Team Ireland has qualified for the first time by achieving the “A” qualification standard is testament to their talent and dedication as well as the hard work and support provided by Snow Sports Ireland, its members and volunteers. I want to thank the athletes, their families and Snow Sports Ireland for their commitment and contribution to the Irish Olympic Movement. On behalf of all of us involved with the OCI, we wish Bubba, Patrick, Tess, Thomas and Seamus the very best of luck in PyeongChang, we hope they perform to the best of their ability and they enjoy their Olympic experience.”
The OCI has supported three of Ireland’s Winter Olympian’s through the Olympic Scholarship run in conjunction with the International Olympic Committee. These athletes are Tess Arbez, Patrick McMillian and Seamus O’Connor. Each of the scholarship students received grants of €17,000, plus an additional €4,700 to assist with transport costs to Olympic qualification competitions. In addition, the OCI has facilitated access for the Winter Olympic hopefuls to the Sport Ireland Institute facilities that include sport science and medical advice as well as athlete lifestyle services.