NZ athletes gain friends, experience

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Young athletes from the region are celebrating making friends and reaching personal goals at the Winter Youth Olympic Games in Lausanne, Switzerland, which conclude today.
Wanaka freeskiier Luca Harrington (15) won bronze in the halfpipe yesterday, posting a best score of 80.66.
“I got pretty nervous at the top of the halfpipe but as soon as I dropped in everything disappeared from my mind except me, my skis and the pipe. I’m so happy with how everything went today.
‘‘Skiing against these athletes has been incredible and I’ve made so many amazing memories,’’ he said.
Zoe Harman (15), Lucy Neilson (17), Hunter Walker(17) and Will Becker (16), all of Maniototo, performed strongly in curling but were just overtaken by Russia to end in fourth place.
Walker said the fourth placing meant a lot to the team.
‘‘This is the best New Zealand has ever done in curling at the Winter Youth Olympic Games so that’s pretty amazing.”
Harman said they were “a bit disappointed’’ to not get a medal but the whole experience had been ‘‘amazing’’.
‘‘It’s been so cool to play against such good curlers from all over the world,” she said.
Norway won the gold and Japan the silver medal.
Campbell Wright (17), of Hawea, competed in the cross-country freestyle sprint earlier in the week.
“Sprint racing is so fun because there’s so many people on the course and everyone’s just giving it everything, so I had a really good day,” he said.
Luge athlete Hunter Burke (16), of Wanaka, said he had made ‘‘big improvements’’ this season.
He placed 18th overall in his event on Monday, matching his fellow luge athlete Ella Cox (17), of Dunedin.
Burke had ‘‘some nerves’’ before his first run, but in his second run he posted his best time of the whole week.
‘‘It was pretty special being here, in only my second season of competing internationally,’’ he said.