Queenstown’s snowboarding star Tiarn Collins says it feels “so good to be back in action again” after dislocating his shoulder on the eve of the Winter Olympics in February.
The 19-year-old’s started his season off with a bang, qualifying second in his heat and finishing eighth in the finals of the snowboard Big Air World Cup in Modena, Italy, earlier this month.
Collins was in the final training session for the Games when he sustained the injury.
And he wasn’t quite ready to compete on home snow at Cardrona in August.
Now back on form, he says: “I’ve really started to feel like I’m back to where I was and even better in the last few weeks, so it’s been awesome.”
A backside 1440 mute grab put him in second place in the Big Air qualifiers.
He pulled off a backside 1440 and switch backside 1260, over the 46m tall and 130m long jump, to finish eighth in the finals.
Collins says it was the “craziest final” he’s ever been a part of and “everyone went nuts on the jump”.
“I really want to push myself over the next season and do as much riding as I can.
“It was the longest time I’ve had off snow in a long time, so it was pretty tough having to sit at home for so long.
“The hardest but most motivating time would have been during this last New Zealand winter, when I could see the mountain from my house and just knowing all my friends were up there having a blast.”
Collins spent his recovery period focusing on studying the sport, while also finishing school and receiving treatment for his injury.
He says the accident happened in such a “freak and random way”, but the hardest part was missing the Winter Olympics, in PyeongChang, South Korea.
Collins intends to compete as much as possible this season to build up his ranking and aims to qualify for the X Games and the Dew Tour. He’s got his sights set on the World Cup circuit and the US Open.
“Overall the comp in Modena was a real confidence-booster for me because I was back in the mix with the best in the world again and it showed me what I need to work on.”
But Collins says “to be clear, I’m 100 per cent back and riding better than ever”.
He’ll be travelling around Asia, Europe and America over the next few months for competitions before returning home.