On the rise: Queenstown freeskier Harper Souness competes at the New Zealand Slopestyle Showdown at Cardrona in September. PICTURE: LENNON BRIGHT PHOTOGRAPHY


Gun Queenstown freeskier Harper Souness has capped his rapid improvement in the past two years with selection for the Junior World Freeski Championships in Switzerland in March.

Harper, who turns 16 in a couple of weeks, is one of a four-strong team — including two Wānaka boys — who’ll travel to Europe in January for three months’ training and competing.

The Wakatipu High student says he’s ‘‘super-stoked’’ to be selected.

‘‘This whole season it’s been the main focus … it was really exciting when I found out,’’ Harper says.

The slopestyle and big air competitor broke his wrist early in the season, then had to deal with the disruption the Covid lockdown caused to his training and competition schedule.

But he shrugged off those setbacks to get third at the country’s top freeski comp, the NZ Slopestyle Showdown, at Cardrona, and won the under-18 slopestyle at the NZ Junior Freestyle Nationals.

He also took out the The Remarkables Slopestyle.

He’ll spend the next two months training on the trampoline and dry slope at Wānaka’s
Snow Sports facility before heading to Europe.

Harper says his goal is top-threes for both his events.

‘‘But to get into the top eight, the final, would be really awesome.’’

The event’s a major step in achieving his long-held dream of representing NZ at the Winter Olympics and X Games — he’s got his eye on the 2026 Winter Olympics in Milan.

A graduate of the Remarkables Snow Sports Academy, he says he still regards The Remarks as his home field, and where he skis for fun when not training at Cardrona.

His parents are on a fundraising and sponsorship drive to pay for the $22,000 cost of getting him to Switzerland, having started a Givealittle page, ‘Harper’s Junior World Freeski
Championship Campaign’.