For more on the Frozen Chosen, please visit www.israelibobsled.com

Monday, May 17, 2004

Going for Olympic Gold - Final Israeli Bobsled Team Member Chosen

Jerusalem, May 17, 2004

In the final trials for the first-ever Israeli Bobsled Team - IBT (www.israelibobsled.com), John Frank, former San Francisco 49er and Aaron Zeff, former US Fighter pilot have named Moshe Horowitz, a 25-year-old Jerusalemite and member of the National Football and Rugby teams to the National Bobsled Team.  Horowitz is a student at Columbia University in New York, and is currently studying on a semester-abroad program at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.  Horowitz moved to Israel with his family from New Haven, Connecticut in 1982.

“The reality and euphoria of the win only hit me on the ride home,” Horowitz said, “John and Aaron are serious athletes and serious competitors, and it is a pleasure to have been chosen to race with them.”

Horowitz has been named the alternate brakeman and will be joining his fellow teammates, John Frank, Aaron Zeff, and Canadian David Greaves during the summer in Calgary, Canada for training.   Following the training, Horowitz will commence the bobsled-piloting course in September.

The upcoming season unfolds from November 2004 through February 2005.  Competitions include the North American Championship, the World Cup and the World Championships where Israel is eligible to compete in the two-man and 4-man races.

Following the appointment of Horowitz to the IBT, team captain and brakeman John Frank announced the creation of a secondary squad. The “B” team will include trial finalists Shai Shalev, Israel shot-put champion; Valeriy Tomilov, Bronze winner in the Russian Arm Wrestling Championships; Shahar Mozer, runner up in the Israeli shot-put championship; and Aryeh Bauman, former runner up in the World Arm Wrestling Championships and member of the Israeli National American Football Team.

“We were very impressed by the skills and strength shown by the participants”, said Frank, assessing the finalists. “Together with the competitiveness and fighting spirit, I believe that the achievement of the Israeli Bobsled Team in international events will lead the Israeli team to the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino.”

The Israeli Bobsled team, sponsored by D-3 Diamonds (www.d-3diamonds.com), hopes to be a source of pride for the State of Israel in these turbulent times. “When you think of Israel, bobsled is not the first thing that comes to mind – yet,” says Aaron Zeff, the driver/pilot for IBT. “Our primary goal is to bring bobsledding and the opportunity to compete in this thrilling sport to each and every Israeli and proudly represent Israel on the international scene.”

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Ruder Finn
Dena +972-544-676-982  dena@ruderfinn.co.il

Tuesday, May 4, 2004

Israel Bobsledders Seek "One Good Man"

Archived from Jerusalem Post, May 4, 2004

The Israeli Bobsled Team will hold tryouts next week to find the fourth and final member of the squad that will try to qualify for the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy.

The tryouts will take place on May 11 at the Canada Center in Metulla and May 12 at Kfar Maccabia in Ramat Gan.  Those that advance from the first rounds will meet at Wingate Institute on May 14 to fight it out for the lone available spot.

The IBT's requirements for the tryouts are athletes of at least 1.75 meters in height, who weigh at least 100kg.  They will be expected to run 30 meters in under four seconds, jump vertically 70cm, bench press 120kg, and power clean over 100kg.

The lucky athlete that is selected will live, train, and compete with the team on Olympic tracks in the U.S., Canada, and Europe to qualify for the 2006 Olympics.

The three members of the team are Aaron Zeff, John Frank, and David Greaves, and they are coached by New Zealand native Ross Dominikovich.

"When you think of Israel, bobsled is not the first thing that comes to mind - yet," says team driver/pilot Zeff, himself a former U.S. Air Force fighter pilot.  "Our primary goal is to bring bobsledding and the opportunity to compete in this thrilling sport to each and every Israeli.  We want the Israeli Bobsled Team to be source of national pride during the 2006 Winter Olympics and beyond."

"We're serious athletes with purpose and ambition," says brakeman Frank, a former NFL tight end with the San Francisco 49ers.  "We are here to look for the last piece of the puzzle - a young, ambitious, and talented Israeli athlete to be an integral part of our winning team."

Monday, April 19, 2004

Looking For 'One Good Man' - May Tryouts to Find New Olympic Star

Jerusalem, April 19

Providing a unique opportunity for an Israeli athlete to compete on the international scene, the Israeli Bobsled Team (IBT) will be holding tryouts for the fourth and final Israeli member to join their historic first team. Any Israeli that meets the athletic requirements for the sport has the opportunity to be eligible for the team and if chosen will become an instant Israeli sports star. This ‘one good man’ selected from Israel's finest athletes will live, train and compete with the IBT on Olympic tracks in the United States, Canada, and Europe to qualify for the upcoming 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy.

Tryouts will take place in Israel on May 11th and 12th for a talented, determined and committed athlete to join the Israeli Bobsled Team. Qualifying rounds will take place at the Canada Center (May 11) and Kfar Macabbia (May 12) with the finals taking place at the Wingate Institute on May 14th. Specific physical requirements for the athlete include height of at least 1.75 meters, weight of at least 100kg. At the tryouts, the team will test the aspiring bobsledders for their ability to run 30 meters in less than 4 seconds and a vertical jump of greater than 70 centimeters, bench press at least 120 kg and a power clean of greater than 100kg.
The winner will join Aaron Zeff, a former U.S. Air Force fighter pilot, and John Frank, a former NFL star with the San Francisco 49ers who created the Israeli Bobsled Team in 2001. Along with David Greaves, a nationally ranked sprinter from Canada and coached by Ross Dominikovich, former captain of the Olympic winter New Zealand Bobsled Team, the Israeli Bobsled team has already established itself a serious contender in international bobsledding.

The ultimate goal for IBT is to be selected to compete among the most elite teams in the world, representing Israel at the 2006 Olympics.

“When you think of Israel, bobsled is not the first thing that comes to mind – yet,” says Zeff, the driver/pilot for IBT. “Our primary goal is to bring bobsledding and the opportunity to compete in this thrilling sport to each and every Israeli. We want the Israeli Bobsled Team to be a source of national pride among Israel’s citizens during the 2006 Winter Olympics and beyond. ”

"We're serious athletes with purpose and ambition," says IBT brakeman, John Frank. "And we are here looking for the last piece of the IBT puzzle – the young, ambitious, and talented Israeli athlete to be an integral member of our winning team."

The team members all hold Israeli citizenship and are sanctioned by the Israeli Olympic Committee (IOC). The team proudly represented Israel in February at the World Championships Bobsled Races in Germany.
To find out more or to attend the tryouts, email bobsled@ruderfinn.co.il or call +972-54-676-983

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Ruder Finn
Dena +972-544-676-982 dena@ruderfinn.co.il

Monday, February 23, 2004

Immigrants on Ice

Archived from The Jerusalem Report, February 23, 2004

The Armenian bobsled driver paces the length of Lake Placid's wooden starting house, exhaling in short, loud bursts.  He seems to be convincing himself that his impending life-threatening endeavor is worthwhile.

Everyone adheres to their own routine before hitting the steep, serpentine track of hard white ice.  The Armenian's brakeman, whose task is pushing off with the driver and then keeping his head down until it's time to stop, is holding onto a bannister and pumping his legs, simulating a push-off.  He's wearing a mask that covers his face and a down jacket, storing heat for outside, where it's well below zero. An American
driver is warming his shoes and feet with a hair dryer. His Canadian counterpart stands to his left, eyes shut, arms extended, head jerking from side to side. He is reliving the Lake Placid run's treacherous course - 20
turns over nine-tenths of a mile, with an overall vertical drop of 40 stories - each tum engraved in his mind.

The Israelis, already in their cleats and their midnight-blue speed suits, are on their backs in a corner. Knees bent, eyes closed, they seem to be locked in prayer or meditation. Bobsledding is a sport that can literally
force the separation of a man's head from the rest of his body, and has once.

Now it is the Israelis' tum - their final descent ofthe six-race America's Cup tournament.  They walk calmly out into the cold, late-January air, flip their blue-and-white bobsled onto its freshly sanded runners, tum down the lids of their visors, yell unintelligible words of encouragement to one another, and execute - at 58.01 seconds - one of the best runs of the day.  In the two rankings on the tour - nation's and overall - it helps lift them into third and fifth, respectively, out of 15 teams.

These Israelis have lived all their lives far from the Mediterranean sun. The driver, Aaron Zeff, 35, a businessman and former U.S. Air Force fighter pilot, is from the San Francisco area. His first brakeman, plastic surgeon John Frank, 41, once an NFL tight end, hails from the Allegheny Mountains of Pennsylvania; and the reserve brakeman, 36-year-old David Greaves, is from Winnipeg. The coach, Ross Dominikovich,
36, is a former New Zealand Olympic coach, but for the other three, fascination with bobsledding is recent.

It began in a hot tub. Zeff and Frank, a former star with the San Francisco 49ers (he caught two touchdown
passes in their Super Bowl 23 win over the Cincinnati Bengals), met while they were soaking at the Concordia Club in the Bay City.  Frank says they were on the first leg of the Jewish triathlon, the other
two being the steam room and the buffet table.  Their talk turned to skiing, and Zeff figured Frank was blowing a bit of hot air.  "I thought he'd have a nice outfit and a half-day ticket," he says. But when they
hit the slopes of the High Sierras that winter, both of them, in alpine parlance, ripped it up.

In March 2002, Zeff went to ski in Banff, Canada. When he heard the bobsleds roar down the old Olympic track in Calgary, he immediately called Frank.  "Listen to this," he yelled over his cell phone. "This is amazing."  Frank got on a plane and the two watched and learned.  By the end of the vacation, Frank and Zeff had enlisted Dominikovich as a coach and had conjured up a dream: to represent Israel in the Olympics.

Zeff has close emotional links to the country and has visited more times than he can count. He once volunteered his skills as an F-4 Phantom pilot to the Israel Air Force.  (They said, no, thank you.)  He is currently trying to create a system whereby the Jewish War Veterans of America would adopt different
Israel Defense Forces units.  He has personally adopted a unit that's been serving in Rafah, in the Gaza Strip, and, in April, he is set to be married in Herzliyah.

Still, they weren't Israelis - and they had no idea how to command a bobsled down a track, let alone compete with the world's best. The soft-spoken Dominikovich put them on a training schedule. But to get into North America's one annual course to certify bobsled drivers for international competition, a country had to sponsor
them. They needed a letter from the Israeli Olympic Committee, acknowledging that they might one day represent Israel.  Zeff called; he e-mailed; he got no response.  Finally, in October, he got on a plane. "I went down to Wingate [the sports training institute near Netanyah, which houses some committee offices] so many times," he says, ''that it was easier for them to give me the letter than to listen to the sound of me knocking on the door." By November, they'd started the five-day course.

Dominikovich describes the skills needed to excel in piloting a bobsled as "the ability to run a sprint and
then play an exact video game like Tetris." Pointing to Zeff across a long table of food at a brewery/restaurant
post-race, he says that his calm demeanor and his pilot's skills are a good part "of their phenomenal progression."

Zeff, his coach and teammates say, outshone many more experienced drivers during the course. But as
their first race loomed that November in Calgary. his back was giving him trouble. An X-ray revealed a fracture to the T3 vertebra as a result of a nasty crash. Zeff thought that might be the end of his fledgling career; Frank thought not, and stepped into the pilot's seat, in order to preserve momentum, until Zeff healed. All he needed was a brakeman.  Zeff called his brother-in-law, who works with the Phoenix Coyotes, an NHL hockey team, and asked him to recommend an athletic Jew who wasn't averse to risk. He suggested his cousin, Greaves, a Winnipeg semi-pro hockey player and skydiver when he isn't singing in his synagogue's Israeli folk group or working at his marketing job.  Greaves agreed. "I thought this would be a good opportunity to show my support for Israel and I thought it was cool," Greaves recalls, sipping Bailey's and coffee later in their condo.

But Frank's first attempt at running the course with him as brakeman was done, as he himself says, "on his head" - they flipped on their practice run. The course is long and icy and has multiple switchback
turns, which, if entered or exited at the wrong spot, will flip the sled over. This happens at upwards of 60 mph, and leaves very little reaction time. Greaves and Frank were left with burns on their arms. Before
the race, Frank told "Gravey" it probably wasn't "a good idea to ride. with me," and they bailed out.

By May 2003, Zeff had healed and was back as driver. The team came in second at the Alberta Cup on the Olympic track, and the threesome decided it was time to make it official and get Israeli citizenship. They
contacted their local aliyah emissary in Oakland, and flew to Israel, arriving on a Friday afternoon to a closed immigration office. Before long, though, they had Israeli identity cards and were giving the children of Metulah, where Zeff would like to buy a house, bobsledding clinics on a demo sled with wheels they had brought with them. They loved the experience and, says Frank, "once we did that, I knew we had to go all the way with this.

Since then, they've competed in the United States in the B league, performing well enough to qualify for Europe's elite World Cup circuit, which they're joining this month. They'll probably be near the back of the pack, their coach says, but "we'll take baby steps the whole way" to the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin. Their plan is to watch and learn during the remainder of this season, to funher their improvement over the following season, and to become one of the 28 fastest sleds in the world by the winter of 2005/2006. If that
happens, their blue and white bobsled will represent Israel in Turin.

They have neither sought nor desired any financial aid from Israel. Between the three of them, they have poured $50,000 of their own money into this endeavor and need to raise $100,000 more per year.

Heading for Europe, they arc all acutely aware of Israel's battered image there. But when asked if they have any hesitations representing Israel, they glare. "We have an intense desire to compete for the Israeli flag," says Greaves. All of them nod, then share a laugh at how easily Israelis question Americans about their Zionist credentials.

They say that bobsledding for Israel has brought them closer to the country and Jewry at large. "Before coming to town we always contact someone from the Jewish community," says Zeff. In a recent race at
Park City, Utah, the call led to a warm reception and a big pizza party, with all the town's Jewish kids waving Israeli flags.

In Lake Placid, a call to the local rabbi led to an immediate family away from home. Rabbi Alec Friedmann, a native of Durban, South Africa, is also a ski instructor and a prison chaplain for death row inmates. He told me he likes the Israeli bobsledding team because they're as "crazy as I am."

The rabbi phoned Andy Teig, a self-described "mountain Jew" (who was quickly given the name "the Wolf' by
Frank, because, he explained, like the character played by Harvey Keitel in "Pulp Fiction," Teig could get things done). Teig arranged lodging. He hooked up freshly baked challah on Friday afternoon and he
secured a private room in one of the town's best restaurants on a busy Friday night.  Greaves's wife, Tracy, said the blessing over the candles. The rabbi said Kiddush, and Zeff's fiancee, Sarah, made the motzi.

For dessert, a Russian Jew from the U.S. Bobsledding and Skeleton Federation joined the table. He brought a bottle of kosher vodka and a stream of stories. He told Zeff he knew some Russian Jews in Konigssee, Gennany, where they were headed for their first race of the circuit.  And Zeff assured me that as they continue
their journey, "the J-train will continue to roll." Final destination: Turin. Estimated time of arrival: February 10, 2006.

Friday, February 20, 2004

A Slippery Slope

Archived from the Jerusalem Post, February 20, 2004.

On a cool evening in Calgary during November 2002, David Greaves was preparing for his first competitive run down the track.  As the newest member of the Israeli bobsled team, Greaves strode towards the starting gate, trying to take it all in.

Decked out in his blue-and-white bobsled suit with a small Israeli flag sewn onto the shoulder, Greaves, together with team member John Frank, proudly climbed onto the track and brought the sled to the starting point.

As the call began to echo throughout the Olympic Park, Greaves noticed the astonished faces of some onlookers.

Next, he heard something he'd never heard before: the PA system boomed out, "The track is clear for Israel 1."  His eyes welled up with tears.  Frank turned to him, said the Shema Yisrael prayer, and they pushed off and raced down the track.

That day didn't have a happy ending - they crashed and flipped over, failed to complete the race, and ruined their rental sled - but for the three members of Israel's national bobsled team, it was another step toward realizing their dream.

The story of the Israeli bobsled team isn't the story of a former jock or ex-fighter pilot looking for long-lost glory, nor is it the tale of how an everyman became an Olympic athlete.  Rather, it is the story of three men who set out to bring pride to their country and offer the world a positive story about Israel.

And, as they've been proving for the last year and a half in trial runs and worldwide competitions, these three men just might have the heart and brawn necessary to become legitimate Olympic contenders.

"We have always said this is more than just about the sport, although we are extremely committed and serious about the sport.  Ultimately, representing Israel in a positive light and telling Jews around the world that we need to rally and support Israel is why we are doing this... and we will do it with great pride and humility," says Greaves.

At first glance, an Israeli bobsled team is reminiscent of the much-lampooned Jamaican bobsled team, which made history by competing at the 1988 Olympic Games in Calgary, Canada, and was later immortalized in the Walt Disney movie Cool Runnings.  However, unlike the rather laid-back, Jamaican-style collection of characters who typified the Cool Runnings team, the Israeli team members are serious and competitive.

Aaron Zeff and Frank, two successful San Francisco-area residents, conjured up the idea while skiing the slopes of Lake Tahoe, California, in 2001.  According to Zeff, they were discussing "how to show Israel in a different light" after the beating the country's public image had been taking in the international media.  Brainstorming together, they happened upon the quirky notion: Why not create a bobsled team to represent Israel at the Olympics?

"We came up with the idea of snow, Israel, and speed," recalls Zeff.

They met with Ross Dominikovich, a New Zealander with nine years of racing under his belt, who had coached his country's squad to its first two appearances in the Olympics (at Nagano and Salt Lake City).  Coach Dominikovich found he had a couple of naturals in the pair.

In the 34-year-old Zeff, a business executive who was formerly a fighter pilot in the US Air Force and flew F-4 Phantoms for eight years, Dominikovich saw the reflexes and mindset to be a dominant bobsled pilot.  In Frank, a 41-year-old former National Football League star, Dominikovich found the physical strength necessary to push the sled from a standstill and serve as its brakeman.  Frank, 41, spent five seasons with the SSan Francisco 49ers, winning two Super Bowl championship rings, before retiring at age 26 and going on to become a successful plastic surgeon.

Greaves came aboard as a last-minute replacement for Zeff after the latter suffered a serious back injury during one of the high-speed runs.  Just as it seemed that the dream of forming a blue-and-white bobsled team would be short-lived, Zeff's brother-in-law hooked the team up with Greaves, 36, a Winnipeg businessman with Israeli-Canadian citizenship, even though his last athletic achievement was sprinting on his high-school track team.  Greaves is quick to point out, however, that while he's not a top athlete like Frank, he has kept up with his running and competed in half marathons.

Taking up this winter sport can be a daunting task.  The bobsled, a partially enclosed vehicle which weighs approximately 80 kilograms for a two-man team - driver and brakeman - hurtles down a course of iced, steeply banked, twisting inclines, with only sled-like runners separating the men and their sled from the ice.  The sport has been a part of the Winter Olympics since their inception in 1924; now the world's best teams fly down the course at speeds topping 100 kph.

Participation comes with risks.  During a recent week of training, the team crashed three times.

"You should see the bumps and bruises," Zeff says ruefully.  "John [Frank] and Dave [Greaves] had first- to second-degree burns on their right shoulder from crashing... The friction from the ice burned right through the clothing.  Fortunately, it was training and they had their Kevlar vests on.

"I banged my head so hard I couldn't remember the date or year for two days.  That's why out team motto is 'You can't put a price on a good bobsled training run!'"

At first the Israeli team's mission was simple - finish some races without getting too badly hurt while completing the necessary runs to join the world circuit.

The first step in qualifying for the Turin Olympics in 2006 is to secure spots at the World Cup and World Championships.  Entry to those events is achieved by finishing five races on three different tracks, essentially laying out enough cash to prove that the team is serious and that the members are good enough not to incur disaster in front of a worldwide audience.

The Israelis prepared to take part in the America's Cup races, each of which was run at a former Olympic site - Calgary, home of the 1988 Games; Salt Lake City, Utah, site of the 2002 Games; and Lake Placid, New York, where the 1980 Games took place.  Last month, the team completed its initial task with a strong run at the Olympic track in Lake Placid, which qualified them for this week's FIBT World Championships in Konigssee, Germany.

It was during the America's Cup races that team members really began to sense the excitement of representing Israel.

"Our competing is as much about the sport as it is an opportunity to reach out to the communities that we train and compete in.  We have had the good fortune of meeting with the Jewish communities in those cities," Greaves relates.

"On a Shabbat in Salt Lake City, we were invited to a local shul, Kol Ami, and were each honored with an aliya.  I am sure the journey we are on will be full of wonderful moments like that.

"We would come across Jews from other bobsled nations, particularly from Russia, some who defected from the former Soviet Union 25-plus years ago," Greaves recalls.  "They approached us with a surprised 'Shalom' and could not believe that they were really seeing ISR on our jackets as we walked by.  They said to us, 'What you are doing makes us so proud.'  Words can't describe what that meant to us."

Earning the right to experience moments like these by representing Israel hasn't come cheaply.

According to Zeff, the team needs a minimum of $100,000 per season for basic operating expenses.  They have spent over $75,000 from friends and family.

Since a new bobsled costs about $40,000, Israel 1 races in a used sled procured at about a third the price.

However, despite the financial difficulties, the team has not requested a budget allowance from the Israel Olympic Committee.

"We have not nor will we ask the Israeli government, the IOC, or the Elite Sports Federation for any funding.  We understand that money is tight.  All we have asked from the IOC is the privilege of representing Israel and wearing the Magen David with pride as we compete over the next three years," says Greaves.

The team will begin actively seeking sponsors soon, but "we wanted to wait until we had some tangible track results.  We hope to keep improving our standing from event to event.  I think we're starting to feel that we have a compelling story to tell."

Beyond raising funds for their own efforts, the team also aims to promote the sport in Israel.

"We hope to raise enough awareness and sponsorship money over the next few years to provide for a bobsledding scholarship in Israel, as well as to build a warm-weather practice track, hopefully in Metulla (in conjunction with the Canada Center).

"This is just in the discussion stage, but we truly do want to build a legacy for Israeli kids," says Zeff.

At the end of this season, the Israeli bobsled team will have completed two years of the three-year gestation period required before being allowed to formally approach the IOC for approval.

The team will need to negotiate with the IOC to be officially sanctioned, since they will be unable to meet several of the standard recognition requirements.  Though the team is internationally recognized by the FIBT and represents all of the Israelis competing in the sport today, there are several technicalities that will need to be smoothed out before Israel 1 is cleared for Turin: that there is currently only one team; that there are no training grounds in Israel itself; and that there is no Israeli championship competition in the sport.

In the meantime, Ephraim Zinger, the secretary-general of Israel's Olympic committee, says the IOC has been receiving regular progress reports from the Israel Bobsled Federation.

The trio has surprised many just by establishing the team.

"People look at us and say, 'How do you have a bobsled team?  There isn't even snow,'" recounts Greaves.  "I point out that there are only 12 bobsled tracks in the entire world today, and of the between 50 to 60 nations that compete in this sport, many of them do not have snow or ice nor do they live near a track... So, why shouldn't Israel have a competitive program too?  And why shouldn't it be one of the best at it?"

Adding to the complexity of the Israeli team is the fac that its members - all of whom have made aliya and hold Israeli citizenship - still reside in North America.

"Making aliya was always something in each of our minds.  Bobsled brought the three of us together and bobsled helped facilitate and speed up the process.  Nothing helped facilitate and speed up the process.  Nothing gives us more pride now than to be able to say that we are Israeli citizens - we carry our ID cards wherever we go," says Greaves.

With Zeff and Frank in California's Bay area and Greaves in Winnipeg, getting together to train is another logistical hurdle.

"We're able to get together once a month either for practice or competition.  Each race offers three days of track time [with at least two runs per day] so that by the time race day comes, you have had at least six runs on the track.

"Apart from that, we have personal strength and speed coaches in our respective cities that work to keep us on track.  Our trainers and coach communicate so that we are all on the same page."

The main training base is Calgary, for several reasons.  The facilities are the most advanced in the world, including a special push-start room that they rent.

Additionally, "we have an excellent working relationship with the Canadian squads, and have even assisted by their coaching staff and athletes.  Our coach, Ross [Dominikovich] has also helped coach many of the Canadian athletes in the past, so we have a super working relationship with them," explains Greaves.

The slippery track to Turin clearly won't be an easy one, but the team is working to overcome the many logistical and financial hurdles.  The increasing popularity of the sport, however, presents yet another obstacle.  As a result of the celebrity status achieved by the Jamaican squad, a number of snowless countries have recently formed bobsled teams.  The bobsledding governing body, realizing it needed to set more stringent standards to guarantee that only quality competitors reach the Olympics, limited the number of spots for Turin to the top 28 teams, as opposed to the 45 who competed in 2002 at Salt Lake City.

Not surprisingly, the Israeli team is not deterred by this obstacle either.

"Zionism has never been an easy story... if the first pioneers were daunted and had turned away, where would we be today?  They are our inspiration, as is every Jew living in Israel today.  We want - no, we will - do this for them," says Greaves.

"It's nice that we are getting so much media attention.  But while we keep our focus on training, we hope that more of the spotlight will go to the real heroes - the people of Israel who live strong, determined lives every single day," concludes Zeff.