Nurturing talent

Fist bump: The Remarkables Freeride World Tour coach Hannah Wilshon gets young athletes Ben Clark, left, and Thomas Williams pumped for training

Training is heating up at The Remarkables’ Freeride World Tour Academy ahead of three New Zealand freeski and freeride events.

Sixty young athletes involved in the programme are developing their skills in either  freestyle (park-based) or freeride (terrain-based) disciplines.

NZSki customer service GM and snowsports department lead Fiona Boyer says the programme, which is in its first year under the global Freeride World Tour Academy banner, has attracted some ‘‘superstar’’ young athletes.

‘‘One or two [athletes] might pop out on to an Olympic podium at some point, but we certainly have aspirations of moving a lot of our athletes on the performance pathway to high performance, and potentially joining the high-performance programme run by Snow Sports NZ,’’ she says.

The academy will take a team to each of the NZ junior freeride tours — the first is at The
Remarks from August 26 to 28, then it moves to Treble Cone, Mt Olympus and Turoa throughout September.

She expects 90% of the athletes in the academy will also compete at the NZ junior freeski champs, held across five days at Cardrona in October.

‘‘That’s kind of the pinnacle for the junior events for the year … a lot of our kids would be expected to podium there.’’

The academy’s attracted some world-class coaches, including Queenstowner Blake Marshall, Swiss coach Max Wiersma, Canadian Luka Sinhart, and the United Kingdom’s Hannah Wilson, some of whom will compete in the Freeride World Tour qualifier event at the The Remarks from September 3 to 8.

‘‘What’s exciting for our athletes is that they see their coaches really, really putting themselves on the line and putting them selves out there as well, and that’s really inspiring for [them] that a lot of their coaches are actively involved in it,’’ Boyer says.

The academy’s in the final week of its holiday development camp, and she expects some
athletes may then sign up for the rest of the season after they open a few more spaces for locals from this coming Tuesday.

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