Rough ride for Snow Sports NZ

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Snow Sports New Zealand has copped flak from the country’s governing sports organisation in a major winter review. 

Sport and Recreation NZ (Sparc) has run the ruler over high performance snow sports after dismal results at the Vancouver Winter Olympics this year. The report – which recommends money be channelled to athletes with the best medal chances – reveals SSNZ’s budget deficit, “dissatisfaction” with leadership, “lack of strategic focus” and perceived poor ski field relationships. 

The relatively young SSNZ recorded a $112,149 loss on consolidated revenue of $921,793 during the 2009 calendar year. 

“Whilst SSNZ has moved to form a capable board, there are questions around its financial sustainability if it wishes to retain employed sports managers for each discipline without increasing revenue,” the report says. 

“Significant strategic planning is required to increase revenue streams and allow SSNZ to earn a part of the often-quoted large numbers of dollars in the snow sports industry.” 

The report adds: “Reduced reliance on grants or Sparc is desirable and SSNZ needs to improve its relationships with the industry, particularly the ski fields.” 

Several stakeholders “expressed dissatisfaction with the leadership of SSNA”. 

“Many believed there was a lack of strategic focus to the organisation and that many claims were not backed up by actions,” the report adds. 

SSNZ also wants to take over the responsibility for the “high performance” function instead of letting the NZ Academy of Sport run it through its Winter Performance Programme (WPP), but Sparc is happy with the status quo. 

“There is negative feeling regarding the fact that the WPP deliver high performance services to several SSNZ athletes,” the report says. 

“SSNZ feel they bear many costs associated with high performance without any associated income.” 

But SSNZ is still developing to become an official “national sporting organisation”, and it’s provided Sparc scant detail on how it would operate the high performance arm, the report says. 

SSNZ boss Ross Palmer says progression was hampered by 2010’s integration of all snow sports groups but he’ll take concerns on board and work to improve. 

He’s “disappointed” Sparc didn’t mention SSNZ accomplishments, like taking a lead in getting freeski slopestyle, halfpipe and snowboard slopestyle possibly included in the 2014 Olympics. 

“But I guess you don’t get better by only focusing on what you’re doing well.”