Ski boss who came in from the cold

SHARE

Four months after dismal results at the Winter Olympics, development of New Zealand’s alpine ski racers isn’t any further ahead – thanks to a boardroom squabble. 

Industry governing body Snow Sports New Zealand has been fighting with subsidiary group Ski Racing New Zealand over per­formance issues relating to SSNZ’s alpine manager James Lazor. 

SRNZ called for the “replacement” of Lazor in March, claiming its board had “lost confidence” in him, according to a letter written by chairman John Sandford. 

From March to May, Lazor voluntarily suspended his SRNZ duties – meaning he couldn’t continue Olym­­pic development plans, coordinate programmes for winter or even talk to athletes. 

The American Queens­towner, who’s held the job for a year, blames “political and personality” clashes for the scrap. “I did nothing wrong,” Lazor insists. 

“It’s sad because I had calls from people [about ski racing] and I wasn’t really able to talk to anybody.” 

After the official integration of SRNZ and other independent snow sports members into SSNZ last weekend, 
Lazor has had all his duties reinstated. 

“What good has come out of this whole thing for the sport by them removing me and not doing anything themselves?” Lazor says. “Absolutely nothing was accomplished for our athletes in the meantime. 

“We’re behind now … the athletes and the programmes – they’re the ones that have got hurt.” 

Lazor says the former SRNZ board praised him for raising the sport’s profile and helping skiers Tim Cafe and Ben Griffin get to the Vancouver Winter Olympics in Febru­-ary. Cafe finished 38th in Super G while Griffin didn’t finish in his Super G and giant slalom races. 

“I want to make sure that they get better, and there are some athletes behind them gunning for their shot.” 

With SRNZ now de­funct, Sandford admits the matter’s been a waste of time. He won’t reveal what SRNZ’s issues were with Lazor, but says “it’s got nothing to do with personality”. 

Sandford’s pleased SSNZ has now implemented performance management criteria for Lazor.
Neither SSNZ CEO Ross Palmer nor board chairman Rick Pettit would comment.