/ Winter Sports

Team of five set to represent Ireland at Winter Olympics

Updated: Wednesday, 29 Jan 2014 20:38 | Comments

Snowboarder Seamus O'Connor is a two-time European Junior halfpipe champion
Snowboarder Seamus O'Connor is a two-time European Junior halfpipe champion

Alpine skier Conor Lyne will lead a five-strong Ireland team to the Winter Olympics in Sochi next month.

Ireland's youthful squad also includes snowboarder Seamus O'Connor and 17-year-old skier Florence Bell, plus skeleton racer Sean Greenwood and cross country athlete Jan Rossiter.

Ireland has never won a Winter Olympic medal but came close in 2002 when Clifton Wrottesley finished fourth in the men's skeleton in Salt Lake City.

Lyne, who will compete in the slalom and giant slalom in Sochi, lives in Utah. His father hails from Brandon in Kerry, while his mother is a native of Hospital in Limerick.   

O’Connor will represent Ireland in halfpipe and slopestyle.

The snowboarder was raised on the west coast of America before the family relocated to the snowboarding hotbed of Utah.

The 16-year-old, whose paternal grandparents came from Drogheda and Dublin, could have represented the United States as the country of his birth, or Russia, as his mother is a native of Siberia.

A two-time European Junior halfpipe champion, O’Connor has been training intensely in Colarado since turning pro.

Florence Bell first represented Ireland at the inaugural World Youth Winter Olympic Games in Austria in 2012 having previously represented Britain.

The Birmingham-born skier’s family are from Northern Ireland.

Skeleton star Sean Greenwood has soared to 25 in the world rankings after a series of impressive results at Whistler, Lake Placid and St Moritz.

Jan Rossiter was born in Cork and brought up in Kingston, Ontario by his Irish father and Czech mother.

The 26-year-old was a latecomer to cross-country skiing, only taking up the sport during his physiology degree McGill University in Montreal.

Rossiter is a MVP of McGill’s Nordic ski team and has completed the Canadian Ski Marathon on three occasions.

Lyne is looking forward to realising his Olympic dream, saying: "Ever since I started skiing competitively as a teenager it has been my dream to represent Ireland at a Winter Olympics.

"When you come from a small country some people say why sent them, but you have got to start off somewhere and who knows, in a couple of Games we could be looking at medals.

"The sport and the tradition needs a push to get going. The Jamaican bobsleigh team are a great example of a team that started out and kept improving.”

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