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Snow Sports NZ boss: dealing with them has been ‘frustrating’

The men aiming to unify the country’s various snow sports organisations blame Ski Racing New Zealand for “frustrating” the process.

Snow Sports New Zealand chairman Rick Pettit and chief executive Ross Palmer have been working since early last year to have the different bodies for snowboarding, ski racing, freeskiing, cross-country skiing and adaptive merged under SSNZ’s umbrella.

The sector shake-up, backed by funding body Sport and Recreation NZ (SPARC), will centralise administration and marketing, plus increase commercial heft.

Pettit singles out Ski Racing NZ for criticism.

“It’s fair to say the process has been frustrating because of a lack of understanding on their part.”

The frustration dates to April 2008, when Pettit says none of SRNZ’s board attended a work­-shop explaining integration plans and SSNZ’s role.

“All those sports, with the exception of Ski Racing, basically took that process forward.

“Ski Racing has continued to remain – almost until the start of this year – totally independent.”

A recent SPARC audit of SSNZ notes Palmer recognises the need to improve communication with SRNZ.

Asked about this, Palmer says: “Communication’s a two-way street. As Rick said, it has been frustrating.”

In March this year, SSNZ took over SRNZ’s administration, communications, finance and trust funding applications.

But a full takeover is no done deal – SRNZ chairman Tony Oxnevad says his board is reviewing the “effectiveness of these services”.

Asked to respond to Pettit’s criticism, Oxnevad didn’t want to get involved in a “spat”.

He did confirm no board members went to the April workshop, but says SRNZ’s then-general manager Simon Mills did attend.

In a SRNZ statement, Oxnevad says: “We want to make sure our Alpine members are fairly represented.

“We’ve already passed our finance, administration, trust funding applications and communications workload to SSNZ, which is like a virtual integration.

“We’re reviewing the effectiveness of these services so our members can make an informed decision on full legal integration.”

This comes hard on the heels of flak flung at Palmer for involve­­-ment in a physical altercation with queue-jumping Mt Aspiring College pupil and ski racer Sam Lee in a Cardrona chairlift line in August.

Two weeks ago Mountain Scene revealed Sam’s father Robert wants the incident independently reviewed. Pettit is refusing.

At the time, Oxnevad said the incident was a “concern” and if Lee didn’t get a satisfactory result dealing directly with SSNZ, SRNZ would be “happy to raise the matter with SSNZ.