Harsh audit no blow


A performance audit of the country’s embattled snow sports promotion body is low scoring – as bosses expected.

Sport and Recreation New Zealand (SPARC) scores Wanaka-based Snow Sports NZ 33 out of 100, placing it in the ‘developing’ band.

This indicates “evidence of some capability in place” and performance “below an effective standard, potentially inhibiting it from functioning effectively and/or exposing it to unnecessary risk”.

However, the July report – released by SSNZ to Mountain Scene – praises “excellent progress” since its establishment 18 months ago as the snow sector’s recognised umbrella group.

“The SSNZ board, CEO [Ross Palmer] and staff are commended on the progress and results achieved over such a short period.”

That’s welcome news to SSNZ after a torrid season. In June, Palmer apologised for failing to ensure a more disciplined environment for snowboarders on a training camp marred by a 13-year-old Wanaka boy hospitalised in an alcohol-induced coma.

In August, Palmer traded apologies with queue-jumping Mt Aspiring College pupil Sam Lee – then 17 – after the pair’s physical altercation in a Cardrona chairlift line.

Last week, Mountain Scene also revealed:

l Sam’s father Robert wants the incident independently reviewed. SSNZ chairman Rick Pettit refuses but plans an in-house code of conduct.

l A 15-year-old schoolgirl claims Palmer swore at her for skiing too fast the same day as the set-to with Sam. Palmer denies swearing.

Palmer and Pettit fronted to an interview on the SPARC report yesterday, with Pettit describing “developing” as fair given SSNZ was just a PO Box 18 months ago.

“We’re right where SPARC expected us to be. To think in 18 months we would have everything nailed, they didn’t expect it, we didn’t expect it,” Pettit says.

Palmer points to runs on the board including SSNZ’s heavy involvement in the inaugural Winter Games and securing the 2010 Junior Snowboard and Freeski World Champs for the south.

“I don’t think when I started the resort saw value emanating from SSNZ but it’s starting to realise some of the value.”

SPARC relationship boss Richard Lindsay, who co-wrote the report, says he has “full confidence” in SSNZ to lead the sector.

Most sporting groups score 30-50, he says.

“The scoring is harsh. If you read it on just score alone you would go ‘Crikey – what are these guys doing?’. [But] you need to look at where they’ve come from and what the opportunities are going forward.”