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New Zealand National Free Ski Teams Announced

8 November 2004

New Zealand National Free Ski Teams Announced

For the first time in its skiing history, two teams of the country’s top free skiers will represent New Zealand on the international competition circuit with the support of the Free Ski Association of New Zealand (FSANZ).

Big Mountain Team members, Geoff Small (Queenstown), Hamish Acland (Mt Somers) and Todd Windle (Bay of Islands) will compete on the International Free Ski Association (IFSA) World Tour. All three have already achieved high international placings while competing individually. Small is one of New Zealand’s most successful skiers with 10 podium finishes, including winning the North American Tour twice.

“While we’ve all achieved good results, none of us have been able to launch a successful campaign on the IFSA World Tour, simply due to lack of support and funding,” said Hamish Acland. “With the support of the FSANZ behind us, we hope this can change, giving New Zealand the opportunity to not only win World Tour events but maybe even produce a world champion.”

All three members of the team have pre-qualified for the IFSA World Tour that is made up of big mountain events across North American and Europe with the overall champion decided at the end of the tour. Big mountain involves competitors accessing extreme terrain, often by helicopter, with the judges looking for smooth, fluid and creative runs down some of the world’s most challenging terrain.

The Freestyle Team represents a new wave in skiing. The sport has developed in the last six years with skiers taking on the terrain parks and halfpipes. This rapid growth worldwide has resulted in the inclusion of the skiing halfpipe on the FIS World Cup Ciricuit and in the 2006 Winter Olympics as a demonstration sport.

The New Zealand Freestyle Team has been developed to enhance New Zealand’s Olympic chances. It includes the current National Halfpipe and Slopestyle Champion, fourteen-year-old Jossi Wells from Wanaka, Lyndon Sheehan (Wanaka), Sam Smoothy (Cromwell), Tom Dunbar (Hanmer Springs), Pip Simmonds (Wellington) and Cat Smiley (Hamilton).

The team will first head to Vail, Colorado to compete in the US Free Skiing Open and then to Europe for the World Cup in Switzerland and the Ruka Freestyle World Championships in Finland. While the New Zealand Team may not be on an equal footing in terms of funding to other countries, it has the benefit of world-class halfpipes and terrain parks to train on in New Zealand. With youthful talent to rival the world’s, New Zealand’s Olympic Free Skiing campaign is ready to go and could well prove that winning, not just being there, is realistic.

Skiing Championships

ENDS

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