Archive for September, 2009

1st place Export Gold Xtreme, Mt. Ruapehu

September 16, 2009

From Temple Basin we drove in convoy with Smoothy and Pete to Blenheim, stayed the night at Pete’s place and took the ferry the next day from Picton to Wellington.

Ferry ride from Picton to Wellington

Ferry ride from Picton to Wellington

The obligatory fish and chip stop on our way to "the Kune"

The boys catching up on some reading on our way to "the Kune"

Our destination: Okahune, the town at the southern gateway to the Tongariro National Park World Heritage Site, at the foot of Mt. Ruapehu. One of the world’s most active volcanoes which last erupted in 2007, Mt. Ruapehu is actually New Zealand’s largest ski area offering two different ski areas: Turoa and Whakapapa (and yep, you pronounce the “wh” as an f). The latter was to be our playground for the next week, which is the perfect description for it. Never before have I seen so many cliff bands and rocks to jump off.

The Turoa ski field side of Mt. Ruapehu

The Turoa ski field side of Mt. Ruapehu

Perfect corn snow conditions in the sunny aspects prevailed,  however the take-offs over rocks had melted so far back that one could only ollie over features with a truck load of speed to take any air. Challenging for spoilt me, used to skiing in Europe. Oh and did I mention that it’s pretty exposed here?

Terrain at the "Policemen's" for the Export Gold Xtreme

Terrain at the "Policemen's" for the Export Gold Xtreme

We had 2 comp days – the weather gods truly blessed our event as so many good weather days here are unheard of – 2 runs each day, a total of 4 runs, with the 2 highest scoring runs going toward the final score. I skied a nice solid 1st line in some exposed terrain, the snow had softened up by the afternoon and it was great! For 1 day now I had been eyeing a straight-line at the bottom of the venue which required you to ollie into it blind. I decided after much lining up and psyching myself up, that I just had to do it.

My line on comp day 1 for the Export Gold Xtreme

My line on comp day 1 for the Export Gold Xtreme

I felt really good during my second run and decided to go for it. After all, I had everything lined up and it has just got to be here, right? Well without hesitating I launched myself – I knew I didn’t even have to go that fast to make it over the rocks into the straight line – and landed with both skis smack bang on the rocks. Aaarrrrggh! The moment I touched down I tried jumping right off the rocks again, did a forward somersault and miraculously just skied out of it, albeit in a lot of pain. I got a good smack on my upper back and neck, ouch!

The boys put on an awesome show, with Geoff Small in the lead but plenty of younger skiers on his heels. Sam Smoothy had a scary crash above exposure on his first line but got it together for a second solid run. Pete Oswald skied a really nice, technical line no-one else attempted, airing over exposure onto a small snow pocket followed by a gnarly straight line requiring a whole heap of commitment. Mt. Ruapehu local Nathan Johns skied mostly in the fall-line, straight-lining basically through the gnarliest terrain and just able to hold his speed together during the second half of his run. Click here for the video of comp day 1 on snowtv.

My goal for comp day 2 was simply survival skiing: on pain killers and after much icing I hiked up to the start for my run. I pretty much decided already that this was going to be my only run for today, so I wanted to make it solid. On inspection even the smallest drop seemed kinda big to me, I was hurting and not really having much fun but I had to get this run done to get a score and those Freeride World Tour points. I choose to ski the venue on the skiers left today, with an obligatory cliff band to drop in the middle. I was so nervous at the top of my run, but my nerves settled as soon as I was given the all clear to start. Now I could just concentrate on my line, which I (almost) skied as I had planned. Nice!

Smoothy managed to come out on top by a mere 0.2 points after an awesome and very balsy line. Geoff Small had the crowd cheering with a 360 over his last cliff, the guy can spin! All in all it was an amazing show and an awesome after party.

Click here for the video of comp day 2 on snowtv.

Women's podium ski

Women's podium ski

Smoothy and I got the cash!

Smoothy and I got some cash!

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1st place at the Black Diamond Big Mountain, Temple Basin

September 7, 2009

After everything I’d heard about Temple Basin and its amazing terrain, I was stoked to be able to compete in the big mountain event held for the first time with Black Diamond. After two absolutely epic powder days at Treble Cone (according to the locals the best conditions in 4 years) we started the 7 hour journey to this legendary club field on Arthur’s Pass.   We arrived the day before competition and it soon became clear that conditions were going to be very firm and that a late start would be necessary.  The wind had done it’s magic up here and scoured the snow pack down to blue ice, especially in areas around cliff take-offs. The landings on the other hand were filled up with wind-blown snow and quite good. I went to bed excited about the first comp day.

Comp venue day 1

Comp venue day 1

Pete, Smoothy, and Williman working on their tans...uhm visualising their lines

Pete, Smoothy, and Williman working on their tans...uhm visualising their lines

We inspected the venue at 11am, much too early. Inspection did more good in making me nervous about the icy conditions than in instilling confidence in my line. I couldn’t quite get into the right frame of mind and skied a quite conservative first line. Not feeling entirely happy about my previous performance and with conditions softening up considerably, I vowed to myself to step it up for the next line. I felt much better skiing my second line and built in a number of smaller to medium sized airs. I also knew that Claire Yvinec, a French competitor and ski-instructor at Temple, had skied really well and that I would have to do something special to come out on top.

What happened on day 2 of the comp is best described by the BD Big Mountain press release, quoted here:

“The women’s title was closely contended between French skier Claire Yvinec of France (Temple Basin ski instructor) and Lori Huber, based in Austria. All was on the line on the final day, with Claire dropping first out of the two and skiing a solid line to lock in a good score similar to that of her first run on Saturday. Strong, fast and technical skiing by the French-woman had her primed to take the title, with just Huber left to drop.

Huber’s Freeride World Tour calibre was evident in her final run through the course, choosing to utilize the new addition of terrain on skiers left and skiing a strong and fast line, impressing the judges. Dropping in above some fairly exposed terrain, Huber held nothing back. She skied fluidly and aggressively above the cliff band, before lining up a chute entry to a 25ft air, stomping the landing and ‘straight-lining’ the run-out as a vocal crowd showed their appreciation. Taking the honours by just 2 points, an ecstatic Huber took her second victory in a week after claiming the K2 Big Mountain title a week earlier.”

My line on comp day 2. The yellow line depicts air time.

My line on comp day 2. The yellow line depicts air time. Yeehaa!

So in the end, I really learnt how to ski out of my comfort zone at this comp, and that was such an important learning curve for me. It’s time to take a bigger bite, as my mate Simon Guthrie would say.

Watch the Black Diamond Big Mountain video clip and visit the License to Chill page for full results. Here’s another cool Temple Basin competition clip seen on Sky Sports.

Ready to take on the Export Gold Xtreme aaarrrgghh!

Ready to take on the Export Gold Xtreme aaarrrgghh!