A Queenstown ski racer has moved up 154 places in world rankings in his first European season – and competed in the World Championships.
Slalom and giant slalom specialist Adam Barwood is now ranked 446 after making the leap from skiing in the USA and Canada.
The talented winter athlete aimed to compete in the World Junior Championships in Quebec when planning his 2013 season.
But such was his progress, Barwood instead qualified for the World Ski Championships in Schladming, Austria – the spiritual home of ski racing.
“That was probably the highlight of the season,” Barwood says, “the biggest race I’ve ever done.
“There was a 55,000-strong crowd there to see Marcel Hir-scher take gold for Austria, a really cool atmosphere.
“Being part of that environment, seeing the fans and to race in such a race had to be one of the best experiences of my life, not to mention motivating.”
Barwood made top 25 in slalom and giant slalom (GS) qualifying races the days before, racing to ninth on icy conditions in slalom and 13th in GS.
In the main races, unfortunately, he fell not far from the bottom of the GS race and straddled a gate in the slalom.
Coach Nils Coberger says: “It’s one of those things that happens, it was an incredibly difficult hill.
“To qualify was sensational. He’s had a fantastic season. Adam made a big step into the European programme. It’s one of those rites of passage – every racer has to do it.
“His world ranking is down to 446, which will give him National C team status. So he’s moved up from the development team and is the only male athlete this year to do that.”
Barwood competed in 40 races in France, Croatia, Austria, Slovenia, Germany and Switzerland, landing a series of top 10 and top 20 finishes in full FIS races in slalom, giant slalom and Super G. They included three sub-30 FIS point scores.
The youngster is now back in Queenstown preparing for the coming New Zealand season, including the Winter Games, with gym sessions at Alpine Health & Fitness and 50km bike rides in the hills.
“It’s really good to be home for a bit. It’s been a good season,” Barwood says. “I’m down below 450 in the world – that’s a good job, I guess.”