MID SEMESTER ADVENTURES
Ben and Ollie prove with their new feature that the season is far from over. Read up on some great spring skiing adventures, many comps and Ben scoring a second place (Congratulations!).
Words and images by Ben Hume and Ollie Hunt.
Ben: With Term 3 in my wake and spring shred on my mind I pointed my truck towards the southern lakes for a long awaited holiday and of course, a home cooked meal. Upon Arriving in the Central Otago basin I was a little disenchanted to see that the mountains weren’t covered beanie to socks like our good friends in the Craigieburns and Mackenzie country.
After a quick trip home to Alexandra I jumped back on the road to Wanaka for a bit of competition training above the clouds at Treble Cone. Solar aspects provided more than enough slush for a few party turns, boosting the size of the rat pack to well over 30 people at its peak. What more could you ask for on a Saturday afternoon!
The following Monday saw the start of The North Face Frontier as part of the Audi Quattro NZ Winter Games. Conditions were firmer than ever when the first Male skier dropped at 10am, not at all dissimilar to the ice rink at Naseby where the curling was held the very same day. “It’s Stiffer than a school boy out there” noted Kiwi Freeride legend Sam Smoothy.
Unfortunately, when it came to run time Ollie and I were unable to put down what we wanted. Myself landing my final feature with a backslap so big I could’ve won the NZ Bomb Comp at Lake Taupo.
Ollie: I pieced together a reasonable top section, linking two drops together, and sent it off a big nugget just into the second section of the run (the Shadow basin venue at the Remarkables is interrupted mid-way by a cat track). Upon finding a landing, on white concrete, I headed straight for my final feature, a straight line through almost 10m of rocky tussock. Making it through the section quicker than I would have liked, speed was to be the death of my run: Upon landing the final tussock hop I found myself lacking both of my skis, having experienced a large and unintended deceleration.
I was lucky to ski away with only a bruised forearm and damaged pride. Luckily the downtime activities that Wanaka has to offer, including surfing behind a jet boat on the Clutha, restored me relatively soon.
After hearing on Wednesday that the 4* competition was to be held on the Friday at the Remarkables, we decided to let the boys head over and inspect the venue on Thursday as we explored Treble Cone, which had received 38cm of fresh snow in the previous 24 hrs.
We made our way up the six just as the saddle was opening and smashed through some chopped pow. As I neared the top of the saddle on my third chair, the Motatapu chutes opened, and following the local Fraser McDougall down untracked powder was one of the best runs I’ve had all season.
Racing up the boot pack we crammed in about 5 more laps of the chutes before lunch. Following the worst weather of the day, which luckily fell around lunchtime, we made it back to the saddle to intermittent clearings and still great snow. We skied to the last chair on the saddle and then bailed back to Wanaka.
Kiwis on top:
The final of The North Face Frontier, a 4* world qualifier, was held on the Friday. As we were not competing Ben and I took on the role of ninjas at the course top, we were impressed but slightly annoyed that we were not required to pick up stray skis, because the level of riding was so high. Either that or the DIN settings on each crashing athlete’s skis were so high they didn’t release.
We were stoked to see young Hank Bilous take the competition out, meaning he has now occupied all three possible spots on the podium over the last 4 years. Full highlights of the event are available here.
MFC Sweep the podium:
Fast forward to Wednesday this week we were back in Canterbury to round out the NZ Freeride World Qualifier season at the Mt Olympus Freeride Open. Seeing as Olympus had been dumped on while we were down south, stoke was high for the day ahead! We arrived at lodge just a couple minutes (maybe 20) after the 7.30am briefing to see the face loaded with fresh snow glistening in the sunlight.
Ben: After serious showings from the first 3 categories, ski men came to the party with a hell of a bag of antics. I managed to lace together a double at the top of the venue make a few turns then jumped of a sizeable drop at the bottom to land myself in 2nd place. Only to get to the bottom and see Hank Bilous and Jamesa Hampton (1st & 3rd) air over my drop from the ridge at least 3 metres above, MADNESS! Unfortunately, weather failed to play ball as the morning went on, and visibility decreased from blue skies to pea soup.
Ollie: I dropped towards the end of men's ski, coming unstuck after the first double - the same as Ben’s. An abrupt argument between my left shoulder and a pesky rock saw me lose a ski and thus notch up my second 0.0 of the season, unfortunately continuing the #winsomelosemost theme. The porridge I skied through after reassembling myself was a testament to the snow variability that can besiege a sun affected face this late in the season. Luckily the snow looks like it shall hang around for a while.
On the whole it’s great to see the clubbies well covered as we head into what should be a long spring. LONG LIVE THE SKI SEASON!