Winter sports: S'pore hoping to have skiers, snowboarders at 2022 Winter Olympics

A snowboarder on the halfpipe in the FIS Snowboard World Cup at Phoenix Snow Park in Pyeongchang, South Korea, on Feb 19, 2017. The event is a test event for next year's Winter Olympic Games. A local skier or snowboarder is unlikely to represent Sing
A snowboarder on the halfpipe in the FIS Snowboard World Cup at Phoenix Snow Park in Pyeongchang, South Korea, on Feb 19, 2017. The event is a test event for next year's Winter Olympic Games. A local skier or snowboarder is unlikely to represent Singapore in Pyeongchang, but there is hope for the subsequent Beijing Games.PHOTO: AFP

Association building database of talented skiers and snowboarders, with an eye to Beijing Winter Olympics

Skiers and snowboarders may be missing from Singapore's biggest-ever winter sports contingent - comprising four skaters and 18 ice hockey players - at the ongoing Asian Winter Games in Sapporo, Japan, but the Singapore Snowboarding and Skiing Association (SSSA) is hoping this will change.

SSSA president Low Teo Ping told The Straits Times that the national sports association (NSA) aims to assemble a database of Singaporeans based overseas and who have been consistently training and competing, in the hope of having representatives at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.

"We know there are Singaporeans who ski competitively out there in the world ... for the moment, we have to rely on this talent overseas and suss them out to see what level they are at, and try to work out some training schedules for them wherever they are," said Low, who is also president of the Singapore Rugby Union and one of the vice-presidents of the Singapore National Olympic Council.

The SSSA launched its website late last month as a major component of its recruitment efforts, and its secretary Kaori Zage stressed that the NSA is seeking serious Singaporean skiers and snowboarders who have been training with a club or coach.

NOT JUST MAKING UP THE NUMBERS

There's a minimum performance level that everyone has to achieve... We want to make sure that anyone who represents Singapore isn't going to be someone who only skis once in a while.

KAORI ZAGE, Singapore Snowboarding and Skiing Association secretary, on seeking serious skiers and snowboarders to possibly represent Singapore at the 2022 Winter Olympics.

"With the next two Winter Olympic Games held in Asia, we think it would be a great time to identify a skier or snowboarder from Singapore," she said.

"But there's a minimum performance level that everyone has to achieve ... we want to make sure that anyone who represents Singapore isn't going to be someone who only skis once in a while."

 

Zage, who is also vice-president of the freestyle disciplines and ex-vice-president of the Singapore Ice Skating Association, revealed the NSA had turned down offers from German and Austrian athletes who wanted to change their nationalities to represent Singapore in skiing and snowboarding.

While Low and Zage admitted it is unlikely that a local skier or snowboarder will don national colours at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, both are hopeful that Singapore will be represented in skiing and snowboarding at the Beijing Games.

Zage said four athletes based overseas but who could potentially represent the Republic - three in Switzerland and one in Italy - have reached out to the SSSA.

According to Zage, among them are siblings aged 13 and 17, whose mother is Singaporean and father is Swiss. The pair, who both hold Singaporean and Swiss passports, are on a regional ski team in Switzerland and are sponsored by Austrian ski company Blizzard.

Zage added: "There are kids like that, but I think more people will come forward. We hope to reach out to as many people as possible through our website."

•Visit sssa.org.sg for more information.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 21, 2017, with the headline 'S'pore might have alpine reps in 2022'. Print Edition | Subscribe