It’s one Mel of a job being a snowboard tour judge

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Watching superstar snowboarders slaying tricks at competitions around the globe is work for one lucky Queenstowner.

Mel Simmons has had prime views of the action as a judge on the elite Ticket To Ride World Snowboard Tour for the past five years.

“Basically I get paid to watch my friends ride,” the highest qualified female freestyle adjudicator on the TTR circuit says.

Simmons is back home scoring moves at the Burton NZ Open at Cardrona, which started on Tuesday and runs till Saturday.

The 32-year-old jet-setter chases the winter – with freestyle competitions in Australia, Russia, Germany, Switzerland, Canada, USA and Asia on her list this year.

Wellington-born Simmons began boarding when she moved to Queenstown in 1997 and literally fell into judging eight years ago. 

“I blew out my knee at a slopestyle at The Remarkables and they were short a judge … ” 

Simmons only makes it back to the resort about three months a year – but credits her Queenstown roots for often being named head judge at worldwide competitions. 

“At the Southern Lakes – my stomping ground – we play host to some of the most outstanding international invitational events in the world, which is awesome. 

“So the amount of experience I’ve managed to obtain has enabled me to work my way up through the ranks, so to speak, a lot quicker than most,” she says. 

Simmons is in training this week, practising a new live scoring system being test-run at the Burton NZ Open. 

“I’m excited about the concept. With the way riders have progressed and are coming on right now, it’s time to 
give them definitive feedback on how they can improve their run,” Simmons adds.