Russians Julia Zlobina and Alexei Sitnikov will be taking part in the Ice Dancing for their adopted nation they were 6th in this season's European Championships an improvement on 7th last season. They were also the silver medalists in last year's Winter Universiade. At 24 and 27 it is possible that they may continue for another Olympic cycle but having finished 16th in the world's last year they will be looking for any improvement on that position and a top 10 finish would be exceptional.
Patrick Brachner originally from Austria will take part in the men's giant slalom and slalom. He injured his left knee earlier on in the season but was back on the slopes ahead of the initial schedule determined to be in Sochi.
Gaia Bassani Antivari was born in Italy and first tried to compete in the 2002 Winter Olympics for Grenada, but they failed to compete the necessary paperwork. She did however take part under the Azerbaijan flag in 2010 finishing 57th in the Giant Slalom but skied out of the course in the first run of the slalom. She is only selected for the women's slalom this time.
He qualified in November last year at the World Cup series events in Turin, Italy and Kolomna, Russia. He has traveled to be able to train, while still at school moving to Vancouver and now basing himself in Korea to train alongside the best Asian short track stars.
There will be three athletes across three disciplines.
Twenty-year-old Himanshu Thakur was up for the one Alpine slot against 2006 men's giant slalom competitor Hira Lal but the 34-year-old took his own name out of contention so that his younger first cousin who had the better performances over the qualifying period finishing ahead of his cousin on 8 of the 12 occasions that they both finished an event over the last 20 in the qualifying period. To qualify an athlete the men had to have a score of under 140 points on the FIS system, Thakur was on 111.20, Lal slightly worse on 111.43.So Thakur will compete in the men's slalom.
The final Indian participant is a veteran at the age of 32 he will be taking part in his fifth Winter Olympics. Shiva Keshavan first took part in the luge in 1998 at Nagano when he was the youngest ever luge competitor. His mother is Italian and he was approached to represent Italy in 2002 but insisted on retaining his Indian nationality for competition. Ironically then his best performance in the Olympics came in 2006 in Turino when he finished 25th.
Iran secured a quota of five athletes for the 2014 Games three spots in Alpine and two in Nordic skiing.
|Kiadarbandsari in action|
He is joined this time by 24-year-old Mohammad Kiadarbandsari who took a bronze medal at the 2011 Winter Asian Games in the Super-G. This is the first medal won by Iran at that level.
There is a spot available in the women's slalom and although at the time of writing it has yet to be awarded. Although it is likely to go to Marjan Kalhor who was the flag bearer and first woman to compete at the Winter Games for Iran in 2010.
There are two skiers going in the Nordic events, first there is Sattar Seid who also took part in 2010 where he came 89th in the men's 15km freestyle cross-country. The following year he was a key part in the Iranian relay team in the Winter Asian Games that brought home a silver medal. He will be lining up in the men's 15km classical in Sochi.
For the women there is Farzaneh Rezasoltani who will be taking part in the 10km classical. She has dominated the domestic racing schedule this season with a week at Val de Fiemme her only international competition last February with her best result being 36th in the 5km.
Will take part in three sports with a total of 5 athletes, three born in Ukraine, one in the USA and the other in Luxembourg.
Another Ukrainian born competitor is Alexei Bychenko also from Kiev who had competed for Ukraine until 2010 in the men's individual figure skating. He was only third in the Ukraine national championships in 2010 having been a silver medalist on two previous occasions, but there was only one spot open to the Ukraine that year. He came 10th in this year's European championship his best ever finish.
He proudly carried his nations flag into the Opening ceremony in Vancouver four years ago and as the only representative this time will be doing so once again in Sochi.
Jacky Chamoun at 22 is returning for her second Winter Games. She placed 54th in the women's slalom four years ago.
She will be joined by Tarek Fenianos who is 13 months older than the veteran Olympian. He finished 46th in the slalom at last year's World Championships.
In the shortest women's classical race the 10km they will be represented by 22-year old Chinbat Otgontsetseg. She was 91st in last season's World Championships at 10km Freestyle. Although she hasn't competed on the World Cup stage since she made two appearances in the 2009-10 season.
In the men's 15km classical she is joined by Bold Byambadorj. The 22-year-old has been based in Europe this season after coming 138th in the 15km Freestyle World Championships last year, to gain more international experience.
Both of them took part in the Universiade in Trentino in November last year as part of a four strong. Otgontsetseg had a best of 52nd in her Olympic discipline, Byambadorj came 61st in the 30km classical.
At his age he is bound to be one of, if not the oldest competitor at this year's Winter Olympics. But as well as being a recognied trail runner around Europe in 2003 he decided he wanted to show off his country and to do that he took up cross country skiing. He is still superbly fit and do not rule him out of appearing in the next Games at an incredible 48.
|Karim with Air Marshal Khan head of the Ski federation|
Having sorted out the dispute between the Pakistan Olympic Committee and the Pakistan Government Mohammad Karim and teenage skier will be able to take his place in the men's slalom and giant slalom. He is only 18 and already leaps and bounds ahead of Pakistan's only previous Winter Olympian Mohammad Abbas. He is one of the growing number of young people from the Naltar region who the Pakistan Air Force are taking from the wooden skis that they start on to progress through international competition to enhance the nation's ski programme.
He is the first figure skater to ever represent his nation, as the only previous competitors have been in Alpine skiing or luge.
There are two 21-year-old athletes from different backgrounds representing Chinese Taipei in both the speed skating disciplines.
The elder but just over 3 weeks is native born Sung Ching-yang who started out as an inline skater in which he won 2 gold medals in the 2010 Asian games in the 300m time trial and 500m sprint. He converted to long track speed skating and had success in last year's Universiade taking bronze in the 1000m. He will be competing in the two sprint disciplines 500m and 1000m at the Adler Arena Skating Centre. He is the first competitor from his nation to take part in the long track speed skating
The first the eldest at 26 is also the only woman Kseniya Grigoreva who is appearing in her second Games. She unfortunately did not finish the first run of the women's slalom four years ago but came 58th in the Giant Slalom. This year she is doubling up adding Giant Slalom to her itinerary. She did not finish in either event in last year's world championships but two years earlier she was 44th in the slalom and 72nd in the Giant Slalom.
Joining her in the Alpine disciplines in 20-year-old Artem Voronov who in last year's world championships came 44th in the men's slalom. In the world juniors the year before that he came 16th in the combined which suggests that in the future he may do more than simply the slalom and giant slalom which is all he has qualified for this time around.
This explains why he was 6th in the Chinese national championship in 2009 before winning the Uzbek national title the following two years. However, in the 2011 Asian Games he finished 6th the last continental wide event he took part in. But in the last three Four Continents Tournaments (bring together the non-European skaters) he has been in the top 12 on each occasion. In last year's World Championships he recorded his best ever finish of 16th. But earlier this season he recorded his second silver medal performance in the Asian Cup only being beaten by Japan's Tatsuki Machida who secured Japan's second slot for the Olympics and Worlds this season.
Timor-Leste appears in my blog post about debut nations.