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Snow Sports New Zealand Appoints New Chief Exec

For Immediate Release

23 January 2008

Snow Sports New Zealand Appoints New Chief Executive

SSNZ Board looks to unify, rally snow sports in lead-up to 2010 Vancouver Olympics

Snow Sports New Zealand (SSNZ) Board Chairman Roger Holmes Miller today announced the appointment of Ross Palmer as the organisation’s new chief executive, effective 28 February 2008.

The appointment marks a significant step forward for SSNZ in its drive to unify member associations under one umbrella organisation, and to create what Miller calls “an efficient, ‘one team’ approach to driving snow sports in New Zealand.”

SSNZ is the New Zealand snow sport representative to the New Zealand Olympic Committee and to the FIS (International Ski Federation), the international governing body for snow sports. Its members include Ski Racing New Zealand; New Zealand Snowboarding Association; Free Ski Association of New Zealand; Disabled Snow Sports New Zealand; New Zealand Cross Country; Speed Ski New Zealand and Canterbury Ski Association.

Miller, who last year with the SSNZ board led a review of snow sports’ structure and governance, said one of the board’s first priorities will be for the Board and Palmer to develop a strategic plan to identify short- and long-term priorities.

“There’s genuine support amongst our members for SSNZ to lead this process, to take snow sports to another level, financially and operationally,” said Miller. “Our strategic plan will identify how we expect to accomplish that over the next year and beyond.”

Sport & Recreation New Zealand (SPARC) in the past year has expressed the desire for SSNZ to take a more coordinated approach to administering snow sports by creating a unified organisation to drive snow sports in New Zealand in the areas of sport development, high performance, coaching and event management, and has targeted investment to the organisation to help achieve these goals.

Through the New Zealand Academy of Sport – South Island, SPARC has also committed to invest $2 million over four years in the Winter Performance Programme in support of snow sports’ elite athletes, many of whom are currently competing on the world stage as they vie for selection to the 2010 New Zealand Olympic team.

SSNZ and staff from the Winter Performance Programme will operate from a central location, the Snow & Ice Centre in Wanaka.

Palmer, for the past two years manager of corporate communications for SPARC, has more than a decade of experience in the snow sports industry, including two years as Director of Public Relations for Vail Resorts, one of North America’s largest and best-known ski and snowboard destinations.

Palmer’s appointment is the first of at least two appointments that will take place at SSNZ to boost the organisation’s capabilities.

Palmer said that in the near term he expects to work closely with the SSNZ Board and member associations, many already located at the Snow & Ice Centre, to identify and appoint a talent development/coaching director, as well as an events coordinator, the latter anticipated to be a contracted role.

SPARC investment, combined with the support SSNZ receives from the Caversham Foundation and the Community Trust of Otago, make up the bulk of SSNZ’s current funding base. Palmer said he hopes to expand that funding base in the near future.

“A top priority will be to work with the Board to increase and diversify funding opportunities for all of SSNZ’s members,” said Palmer. “We have a great story to tell and some fantastic athletes coming through the system. It’s an exciting time to be involved in winter sports in New Zealand.”

SSNZ members recently signed a memorandum of understanding pledging their support for a consolidation of snow sports organizations into SSNZ, and for a number of agreed upon objectives, including growing participation and support for the Winter Performance Programme in the lead-up to the 2009 New Zealand Winter Games and the 2010 Winter Olympics.

The organisation’s goal is to have athletes in the ‘top 10 by 2010’.

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