Israel's small Winter Olympic team aims for strong showings

Skier Mikail Renzhin and Zaretsky ice dance duo to represent the blue and white.

ice skating 88 (photo credit: )
ice skating 88
(photo credit: )

Israel's ice dancers Roman and Alexandra Zaretskyonly guaranteed their place at the Vancouver Winter Olympics on Friday,but they are already setting their sights on a top 10 finish in theGames next month.

Thebrother and sister duo finished seventh in the European Championshiplast week and were in a confident mood at a press conference held atthe Olympic Committee of Israel headquarters in Ramat Gan on Monday.

"Of course we would like to win a medal, but being realistic we feel that a top 10 finish will be a great success," Roman said.

"Israel is sending a small team to Vancouver, but we willproudly wave the flag and do all we can to represent the country withhonor."

Besides the Zaretskys, Israel's only other representative in Canada will be skier Mikail Renzhin.

Like the ice dancers, the 32-year-old will be competing in hissecond straight Olympics where he will be taking part in the slalom andgiant slalom competitions.

"It is difficult to saywhat my expectations are from the Olympics because it very much dependson your form on the day of the competition," said Renzhin, who finishedthe giant slalom in 32nd position in the Turin Games four years ago.

The Israel team left for North America on Tuesday morning andwill have more than three weeks to prepare for competition. TheZaretskys don't skate for the first time until February 19, withRenzhin skiing two days later.

"We may train in the US most of the time, but we grew up inMetula and we are proud to be Israeli," said Roman Zaretsky, answeringcriticism directed at him and his sister for living abroad most of theyear.

"We chose to skate with the music of Hava Nagila andSchindler's List for a reason. We want to make Israel proud and showthe world that we are here."