Ask 11-year-old freeskier Harper Souness what he wants to learn this season and you’ll get the somewhat surprising response “cork 7s”.
For the uninitiated, a cork-720 is an off-axis spin with two full rotations. The youngster hopes to compete in the X-Games one day.
Big dreams from little Queenstowners are now being catered for with the launch of a Remarkables Snow Sports Academy.
It’s a collaboration with The Remarkables skifield run by NZSki, which will provide on-snow high performance coaching.
Parent and committee member Ashley Light says: “The aim is to provide a competitive pathway for Wakatipu Basin’s freeskiers and freestyle snowboarders.”
Harper’s excited about the academy.
“I’d like to maybe compete at the X-Games if I get to that level. I’ve been skiing since I was two years old – I love it.”
The club’s inspired by the race-focused Queenstown Alpine Ski Team, which has produced Winter Olympians.
Light: “It’s a fantastic club, but we’re trying to do the same for everything that’s not racing – park, pipe and big mountain.”
Youngsters of sufficient ability – able to ski the whole mountain – aged six to 18 can join the club.
Through NZSki they can get coaching up to three days a week, from 9am-3pm, running from July 28-October 6.
The cost is $3128 for three days a week, $2516 for two days, and $960 for a 12-day school holiday programme.
There’s also an introduction package, five days between July 30 and August 27 for $400, or 10 days for $720. The club has also arranged tramp-oline lessons and gym sessions.
Light, Snow Sports New Zealand’s performance director, says the academy has been born out of need.
Cardrona has its High Performance Crew but there is nothing on this side of the hill, which means parents had to travel.
“We’ve got such an amazing mountain at The Remarkables with the jumps, the facilities, and it’s the home of big mountain really with the North Face Frontier run.
“It lends itself to getting the local kids involved with the local mountain. It hopefully saves some parents a good few hours in cars and fuel too.”
NZSki snow sports boss Toby Arnott says the first goal is the junior nationals at the end of the season.
“The structured programme is important to develop strong skills and we’ll be employing the best coaches we can find.”
Arnott says the main focus is the kids having fun, “while developing technically-proficient skiers and riders”.
About 30 families have expressed interest and Light’s calling for others to contact the club so they can work with NZSki to determine how many coaches are needed.
Light says freeski and snowboard freestyle’s inclu-sion in the Winter Olympics has helped legitimise the sports.
Asked whether the academy could produce an Olympian, he says: “Wouldn’t that be great.”
Join the club through the ‘team app’ or email:email@example.com