New Zealand - Part 2: Spring Camp
Spring Camp: Empty, Private Park.
During our week of Spring Camp, it felt like we had the entire mountain to ourselves. While the pipe was brimming everyday with heaps of people, there weren’t many people there for Slopestyle at all. With the New Zealand slope teams having private training on the backside of the mountain, this left a group of 7 skiers to hold down the park, featuring Brad Prosser and his group of athletes; Nick Goepper, Victor White, Robin Gillon, and Howie Smith.
Each day we’d start out in the main park, and if the weather was good enough we would head over to the big air jump. While most days were faced with something from wind or snow being a little slow, we made the most of it, and all came away with something valuable from our experience.
During the week of shredding with the crew, we all had such a fun time and helped motivate each other. In the evenings we would go to the river to jump off the Albertstown Bridge, and sitting in the river for a bit to ice bath. During a couple of nights we had the occasional dinner/poker night with the crew. They were a really fun group of people to ski with that week, and I look forward to the upcoming season of hanging out with them.
From the time we spent there, a few memories stand out. Day one of spring camp it was a bit windy, and they had just opened the big air jump for us. The entire time I’d been down there, it was closed, and no one had hit it that day. All of us were standing at the top of the jump being nervous, until Ted came to the top and offered $20 to whoever hit it first. Upon hearing this Howie, whom was the youngest in the group, quickly jumped at the opportunity and dropped in. At first we were all pretty nervous that he wasn’t going fast enough, but thankfully cleared the jump with time to spare. This helped start the entire session, all thanks to a $20 offer.
Mid week through the session, a public figure made his way to the mountain in a helicopter that landed in the parking lot. This was the instagram star Dan Blizerian with his entourage of ladies, who came out to New Zealand to see Shaun White doing some training. This was also the last nice day of weather we had, so everyone was going pushing their limits. Unfortunately a bunch of injuries happened, including one from Shaun White. While the group Dan was traveling with stuck out, it was very unexpected, it was pretty cool to see someone like that just show up on the ski hill, and getting flown in and out on a helicopter.
During the camp I finally was able to land a trick i’ve been dreaming about for years, the triple. With the crazy season around the corner, there’s been a huge pressure to get new tricks. After last year’s contest season getting a triple became much more of a necessity. Last winter I had even tried a couple, the first one during a practice for X Games Big Air where I spun out, and may of gone to the Future for a brief moment. The second was attempted in Austria at a resort called Mayrhofen. Each triple attempt had been a different rotation to my left side with what I considered to be more “comfortable” with, but unfortunately those attempts didn’t end up going that well. For this reason, I decided to consider spinning to right instead since out of the doubles I had, it was the most consistent when it came to the flippy rotation. After giving it a few tries in Utah on the airbag, I knew it would come around the way I wanted it to. While I was still very nervous the day I finally tried it in New Zealand, it felt amazing trying it. My first attempt I went so big that I had to open up and starfish after the third flip so I wouldn’t over rotate. My second attempt, I still went big, but still landed and rode away.
This was a very amazing moment for me. After all the years of work and preparation put into my skiing, it was such an great feeling to finally get past that hurdle. What even made the moment sweeter was the group of people I had surrounding me. My coach Ted was at the top of the jump rooting me on, along with our buddy Brad. At the bottom of the jump was my old coach and good friend Mike Hanley. Mike was the first person I saw after stomping the triple and hugged twice from how stoked we were. Once I got up to the top, another round of hugs and high fives from the guys, and went to do a few more. Being surrounded by that group who have worked with me over the past couple seasons, and for them to be there for that, is easily one of my biggest highlights from skiing so far.
One of the guys in the group named Victor was doing a video blog and featured the entire group riding around. This last video blog features my triple, along with other entertaining commentary for our time there.
The day following Spring Camp, with the mountain closed. Ted and I decided to make one last fun journey while in New Zealand to go check out Milford Sound. This was Ted’s first time seeing Milford Sound, and my first time driving there. While on the way right before getting there, we met a few of the area locals, who apparently loved the roof of our car.
Driving into a fogged and rainy Milford we hopped on to a boat Tour, and took a ride around the Sound. Really stunning being on the water, and taking a full grasp of how big the Fjord is. Following a great boat tour, we started to make our way back towards Queenstown. Staying in the town of Te-Anu, then heading straight to the airport in the morning and flying back to the States.
So happy I went to New Zealand for the Spring Camp. Over the years I’ve heard from many people how good it was for jumps, and I was very happy with how productive it was for the 3 weeks we spent there. Shoutout to all the buddies that made this trip so memorable. Brad for being the most gracious host, Cardrona Park Crew for keeping the jumps prime for us all session, and my audio sponsor JLab. Midway through the trip our radio stopped working in the rental, and we used my Micro speaker everyday to keep the tunes bumping.