Mad Mitchey’s Games guide

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It’s a massive eight months ahead for the cream of winter athletes with the NZ Winter Games in August and the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics next February.

Queenstown ski cross star Mitchey Greig, ranked 28th in the world, will be going for gold at both premier events in her new discipline – where four skiers race each other down a banked slalom course in a series of eliminations.

To get Winter Festival goers up to speed with how Kiwi skiers are travelling, 20-year-old Greig runs her eye over seven up-and-comers training in Queenstown who are aiming for podium finishes.

Matt Soundy
Age: 18
Discipline: Free skiing
Years competing: 11

Biggest comp to date: NZ Freeski Open 2008 – 7th in slopestyle; Junior Freeski and Snowboard Nationals, 2008 – overall under-21 winner

My goals this season: Make the NZ Winter Games in slopestyle, top five in the NZ Freeski Open

Greig on Soundy: The ladies man. I’ve heard his favourite music is the Pussy Cat Dolls – maybe that’s what pulls the ladies and explains why it took two months to get a hug from his so-called ‘babe’. On the mountain, you’ll notice Soundy pulling ridiculous tricks that most of us can’t comprehend, with names I won’t try and remember – or launching himself out of the half-pipe. Soundy’s known as an amazing cook – you might be lucky enough to one day experience some personally prepared burnt toast.

Harry Pettit
Age: 15
Discipline: Free skiing
Years compet­­­ing: 4

Biggest comp to date: Newschool Picknick Invitational in Austria, 2009 – 11th in big air

My goals this season: Make NZ Winter Games in slopestyle and big air, NZ Freeski Open in slopestyle, do as much filming and competing as possible

Greig on Pettit: Harry learnt to ski before he could walk by using a child’s version of an old person’s walker. Dedicated and committed to winning, this young gun has just taken on full-time correspondence schooling so he can commit more time to the slopes. If he’s not skiing, he’s perfecting his killer dance moves to keep up with Soundy. Even after mashing his face again trying to defy the laws of gravity, it wasn’t long till he was back on the slopes.

Ben Griffin
Age:
22
Disciplines: Alpine skiing
Years competing: 14

Biggest comp to date: Spittal-am-Semmering in Austria, 2008 – 1st in Super G; FIS Giant Slalom in Austria, 2009 – 3rd

My goals this season: NZ Winter Games, make the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics team in GS and Super G

Greig on Griffin: This guy’s a real neck-breaker. Not many people would have the courage and strength to break their neck then within eight months come back stronger than ever – not just skiing, but straight to the top of the podium. Griff gives everything 100 per cent – maybe that explains why he attempted a triple front flip into a foam pit where he over-rotated and broke his neck. The Ohakune home boy is ranked our best alpine skier, and is getting better by the day.

Harriet Miller-Brown
Age: 17
Discipline: Alpine skiing
Years competing: 10

Biggest comp to date: NZ Championships 2008 – 3rd in Super G and 3rd in GS in under-19s; Nor-Am cup GS and Slalom at Nakiska in Canada, 2009

My goals this season: Get under 40 FIS points in at least one discipline, qualify for the FIS Junior World Ski Championships, NZ Winter Games

Greig on Miller-brown: As much as Harriet claims to be the stay-at-home child, skiing is hardly antisocial. In fact, socialising is about all that gets done – with a little skiing on the side. And at the age of 17, it’s not like spending three months away travelling the world with eight teammates, waking up to slay the white stuff, is un-adventurous. Ever the “cruisy” soul, she likes long walks on the beach, basking in the sun, and belting out Spice Girls on the chairlift before hammer­ing the course again at 100 miles an hour.

Taylor Rapley
Age: 18
Discipline: Alpine skiing 
Years competing: 9

Biggest comp to date: Nor-Am cup GS at Nakiska in Canada, 2009 – won a Pontiac Cup FIS GS race

My goals this season: Win all women’s national titles, rip it and stay healthy, some more scores within the 40s or lower, NZ Winter Games, FIS Junior World Ski Championships

Greig on rapley: Taylor Rapley is like a bull chasing red flags – she doesn’t know what 80 per cent means. She’s mastered the art of unexplained absences at school – she’s either living in the gym or up sleighing the white goodness – yet is still managing to excel in her final year. Rapley doesn’t hold back on saying what she thinks and if you’re looking for a good time that defines the words total awesomeness, she’s your girl.

Andrew Wylie
Age: 20
Discipline: Alpine skiing
Years competing: 11

Biggest comp to date: Alpine World Junior Champs at Garmisch-Parten­kirchen in Germany,
2009 – 38th in Super G

My goals this season: Get a national title, get under 30 FIS points, place in the overall top 30 at NZ Winter Games

Greig on wylie: With both parents working up the mountain in winters and running the pool in summers while he was growing up, Andy has always dominated far above his age on the slopes and in the water. In recent years he’s focused on skiing and put that extra time into sculpting his guns in the gym. Andy’s an all-round skier who can flutter round the park and do his thing, then rip those pants off, rock the spandex and smash the gates.

Tim Cafe
Age: 21
Discipline: Alpine skiing
Years competing: 13

Biggest comp to date: FIS Alpine World Ski Champion­ships in France, 2009 – 36th in Super-G

My goals this season: Place in the top three at the NZ Winter Games, win two disciplines at the NZ National Champs [on September 4-5], qualify for Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics

Greig on cafe: Mr Cafe is slightly geeky but sure knows how to rip it up. With the Olympics at arm’s length and nearly two degrees under his belt at age 21, I’d call that determination. Known to have fetishes for chewing and eating paper – maybe that’s the secret to him hunting down foreign locals – this guy still seems to have time for socialising. Tim’s always up for missions, even if they involve setting off avalanches in December up the Remarks.

Cafe on Greig

Mitchey Greig
Age:
20
Discipline: Ski cross
Years competing: 2 in ski cross, 8 in alpine 

Biggest comp to date: FIS Freestyle World Championships in Japan, 2008

Her goals this season: Podium at NZ Winter Games, qualify for Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics

Mitch was the most disorganised, loud, boisterous, scruffy, crazy child – and not much has changed. She approaches everything with intense enthusiasm and passion, and lots of random yelling and screaming.

Mitch’s the perfect daughter of Queenstown – absolutely nuts, loves the outdoors, parties like a madwoman till dawn and succeeds in everything. She’s extremely talented on skis – combine that with her attitude and it’s easy to see why she’s top 20 in the world in skier cross and one of NZ’s best chances for Vancouver.

Where to catch them … 

Tim Cafe – recipient of the inaugural Winter Festival Bruce Grant Trust special achievers award – hits the following Winter Festival events:

  • Queenstown launch of Warren Miller’s Children of Winter epic film at Reading Cinemas at 8.30pm on June 26
  • Media Suite Charity Breakfast – a fundraiser for Cafe’s Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics bid
  • American Express Ski Through The Decades race on June 29 and Mardi Gras in downtown Queenstown on June 30
  • Coronet Peak Night Skiing July 4
  • Matt Soundy and Harry Pettit jib at the Rail Jam on the final day of Winter Festival, July 5, at Coronet Peak