Driving south from Ruapehu towards my parent's farm for a cozy night in front of the fire I can barely see the flooded State Highway 1 ahead of me. The rain is pounding down, my music is at level 28 trying to make its presence heard above the drum of the rain, dammit why won't my windscreen wipers go faster? But mostly I'm thinking about the hill, hoping and praying it's snowing up there not raining like this and washing the precious snow we have away. Its been a interesting start to the season with rumours starting to fly around like wild fire all the way back in May; "this is the season we have been waiting for", "Ruapehu is going to have a 5m base", "This season will be epic because the last massive snow falls we had was after the last drought in 2004 and this drought was way worse", "because the moon man said so". Things seemed to be going according to plan with most of the country getting hit with a huge low in late June that covered a large portion of the South Island as well as the central North Island in a deep blanket of snow. Ski and snowboard junkies were frothing to get up there for their first shred of the season, some even committing to skinning or hiking up.
Turoa had its busiest opening day in five years with the top 3 car parks full. However after some warmer temperatures and rain most of the fields are yet again hanging out for another big dump to extend their snow bases, which has now started in the South and will hopefully come North this week as predicted. No-one can accurately predict the weather, although there seems to be a trend of the seasons shifting later so many have suggested we may well see some major snowfalls in Spring hopefully extending the NZ ski fields operating dates. This season is looking promising for a bigger freeski scene at Whakapapa and Turoa with more money being put into park expansion and new features, and the creation of a Whakapapa freeriders group who are looking to run some freeride comps. Whakapapa snow-school is also offering freeride-coaching sessions for up to four people at a time. For those keen to join the Whakapapa Freeriders group it can be found on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Whakapapafreeriders?fref=ts
This season I will be found predominantly skiing Turoa and Whakapapa ski fields at Mt Ruapehu getting myself ready to return to competitive big mountain skiing after having two seasons (1 NZ, 1 Austria) of rehab and being a ski tourist since breaking my back in October 2011. Alongside this I will also be tripping down to Queenstown and Wanaka for a week of skiing mid July and the Canterbury clubbies for two and a half weeks of back country epicness in August that is the K2, and Black Diamond big mountain competitions at Craigieburn and Temple Basin. Following on from my Austrian posts I will be posting various blogs on my travels and general goings on in the snow-sports community on snow.co.nz throughout the season so keep and eye out for those!
Everyone has their favourite items and equipment and I would be keen to know what your favourite winter items are? A quick overview of what my essential items will be for this 2013 winter season:
The Volkl Kiku 170cm skis with Marker Griffon binding, my big mountain ski of choice. The Kiku is the sister of the Gotama with full rocker and tough box construction, meaning us girls can take it where we like and give it hell. Measuring 107 mm at the waist, it's designed for off-piste use in all conditions. The Griffon is a top end binding but in a lightweight design for younger or slight riders.
The Volkl Charisma 156cm skis, a women's alpine ski ideal for some serious carving or just having a cruise on the corduroy. With an ultra-light XTD Wood core, tip rocker and Double Grip XTD with a middle width of 79 mm this ski is by far the most responsive women's non-race specific carver I have ever skied. I highly recommend this for females who like an agile ski that can really be thrown into hard carving turns and like to get some speed on piste.
Dalbello Kryzma ski boots with I.D. Thermo liners. With a 115 flex this boot is for the lady's who like it stiff, don't get me wrong though its soft in all the right places with its perfectly fitting ID liners. It's sexy black shell, Cabrio design architecture and interchangeable tongues mean this is a boot that is going to both look and perform awesomely.
It is important to have good quality outerwear. I am someone who feels the cold and like most doesn't like getting unwanted freezing moisture soaking through my gear. This season I have chosen Ride outerwear with 10-15k waterproofing, stylish cuts, features, and colours, and insulation to keep me toastie warm.
Freeride skiing although extremely fun and adrenalin pumping can have its dangers, hence I will be skiing with a few key safety items. These include a transceiver, probe, shovel, back protector, helmet, and backpack with essential items such as water, sunscreen, scroggin and chocolate!! Snow can cause blindness if our eyes are not well enough protected from the UV reflection on the snow, ensure when buying goggles they have a good UV protection rating. My goggle of choice this season is the old favourite Oakley A-Frames.
This season I am extremely excited to announce some new sponsors that I will be skiing for; Volkl skis NZ, Marker bindings and Dalbello boots, as well as TCB Ski Board & Bike. A big thank you to a few individuals who are huge supports for what I do, Martyn at Snow TV, Ben at TCB, and Geoff at Gravity Sports.
Now you know what I'm wearing and where I'll be skiing keep and eye out give me a wave and don't be afraid to come have a chat. Also watch out for my up coming blogs on Snow.co.nz. I look forward to seeing you all out and about have a ball on the NZ ski fields this season, keep safe and have fun!!