Ski racing white knight’s funding snowballs

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A wealthy part-time Queenstowner with a passion for ski racing is putting his money where his mouth is.

National Business Review Rich Lister Hamish Edwards, who co-founded global software company Xero, has become the largest funder of the New Zealand men’s ski team.

Last year, after meeting team coach, Queenstowner Nils Coberger, he pumped in $20,000 for equipment like a tuning machine and video camera.

This year he’s put in $40,000 to cover the three-man team’s pre-season strength and conditioning programme, race trip to Australia and coaching costs, and also created a $10,000 emergency fund.

The 42-year-old, who owns a home at Millbrook Resort, near Arrowtown, says he helped out because the team is seriously under-funded.

It costs $200,000 a year for the team to train and race in both hemispheres, most of which is paid by the skiers’ parents.

Edwards thinks he’ll continue making substantial contributions till the 2018 Winter Olympics in Korea and even the following Games in 2022.

He and Blenheim friend Andrew Finch have set up the Ski Racing New Zealand Charitable Trust.

The trust has set up a Supporters Club, which costs a donation of $50 or more to join – it was launched in Queenstown last week and has already raised $3000.

He’s hoping that funding the men’s team – comprising Queenstowner Adam Barwood, Willis Feasey, of Twizel, and Nick Prebble, of Christchurch – will improve results so they can attract sponsors and support from High Performance Sport NZ.

“One day maybe they’ll be in the top 30 in the world, which would be pretty special, and then my role will probably be less about helping them find money and more about just being there for them.”

Edwards remembers as a child being given a 1988 jacket from the Calgary Olympics by then-NZ top skier Simon Wi Rutene.

“As far as I was concerned he was a god and that made my brother and me far more enthusiastic about ski racing.”

Edwards later skied for Otago University.

“One year, I think it was ’93, I did 74 days at [Wanaka’s] Treble Cone – don’t tell my accounting lecturers that – and it was superb.”

After university he poured his energy into business including, most successfully, co-founding Xero with Rod Drury.

Two years ago he stepped back and is now pursuing his passion.

“I wanted to do something to make a difference that wasn’t about business – it wasn’t about me making more money because quite frankly I feel like I’ve made enough – and I love ski racing.”

Edwards welcomes NZ ski team Supporters Club members at: hamish@skiracingnz.com.