the Mount John observatory above Lake Tekapo
Every time I return to New Zealand, I love it that much more. Something about the country just pulls me in and speaks to my love of nature, snow, oceans, spirit. And this year I got to experience a new land: Round hill and Lake Tekapo. The tiny town of Lake Tekapo was quaint and full of character. The Lake was beautiful and gleaming blue--sparkling and vast, expanding all the way from the town of Lake Tekapo to far past the ski area of Round Hill, which was a 45 minute drive from town.
the town of Lake Tekapo from the observatory above
Round hill was...well, it was what it sounds like. Round. It was relatively small and lacked any worthy off-piste skiing. There was not much snow when we arrived, but it was perfect for working into training and working on technique. Often it is enjoyable to ski at a hill that doesn't have terribly steep faces and crazy terrain--it's less stressful on the mind and body, and helps to get your body used to the forces of skiing, especially when you've been off-snow all summer.
After a week at Round Hill we were supposed to head to Mt. Hutt, but because of their lack of snow we skipped that portion of our camp and skipped straight to Queenstown/Coronet Peak. I have skied there quite a few times, so it was not anything incredibly new or exciting. But after visiting a place multiple times, as I have spoken about before, you start seeing things you missed the first time. So with open eyes, I ventured around Arrowtown with my camera :)
(see more below)
Training at Coronet Peak was good and bad: the weather crazy, the snow unpredictable, and the visibility slight. All in all, we ended up missing 6 days of training because of the erratic weather. The snow never really had enough time without new snowfall to set up well, so we got to train in some rough and variable conditions. It's easy to complain about bad training conditions, but in all reality, ski racing is never perfect. It's an outdoor sport--at the ultimate mercy of mother nature. Actually, when you think about it, it is one of the few sports with ever-changing conditions. The surface under your feet is never the same--as in basketball. The lines, the boundaries are never once identical to races past--as in football, tennis, soccer, etc. The visibility can change multiple times during one single run--from clear, sunny skies, to squinting through thick fog, to blinking sleet and hail. Once in a while you'll even find yourself flying through the air, with mountains beneath your feet and 80 mph winds in your face. And if you're lucky, practiced, skilled, and most of the time a combination of all three, you'll land upright. You often can't see over a roller, you can't turn your skis the radius required by the course set, and in some unlucky instances, your binding will prerelease and you'll be left to fend with one ski, careening straight toward a fence, arms awry, eyes glazed, blood pumping--somehow slowing time to an impeccably painful pace.
But then, once in a while, you're blessed enough to experience the ultimate rush. Hero snow. Sharp edges. Calm senses. Clear mind. You're flowing, like a perfect, falling river, past a gate--balanced, arcing, silently euphoric. And if you're centered, seasoned, fortunate, you'll perpetuate this flow all the way down a course, for ninety seconds, beaming in so so so much hard work paid off. Finally.
So training in poor conditions often pays off. Although it can be painful, unpleasant, and degrading, there are only so many races each year that present ideal conditions. I've been working on embracing the shifting conditions, understanding that they're improving my skiing and keeping me open to variable conditions--in all senses of the term. It feels good to accept every condition as it is, and not want to change it or yearn for perfection every run. And applying this philosophy to other aspects of life is a challenge I am steeping in every day. And it is so grounding.
Although we only had a few days of sun down south, we timed our heli-skiing trip just perfectly. A few of the USSA trustees took Julia, Jackie, Leanne and me out for a wondrous afternoon of helicopter rides and fresh powder runs. Despite the snow being a bit chalky, not 3 feet deep and light as feathers, the skiing was incredible. The views were insane. And the experience was one I'll never forget (see photo above, and more below).
Richardson mountains, NZ
yeehaw. with guide Rich
poppin wind lips
We flew to a gorgeous mountain lake for lunch (see above), and got to enjoy a spot deep in the mountains that not many others will ever see. That was one part of heli-skiing that I found incredible; I skied so many lines that no one will ever repeat. At least not exactly.
With the many missed days of skiing, we managed to entertain ourselves: blue hair dye, outdoor adventuring, and bungee jumping!
(one of the scariest moments eva)
Regardless of the crazy storms, excessive amounts of hail, wind, rain, snow, sleet, pterodactyls, etc, I still had some ridiculous fun in New Zealand. It happens every time I go down, and I don't expect that fun to stop. I already look forward to returning next year.
Some more pictures to look at, and hopefully enjoy, below. That's it for now. Peace and love, manners and hugs, blesses and bugs <3 <3 <3
working out in our backyard--Lake Tekapo
snowy Arrowtown photos (above and below)
canyon swinging with the doc :)
new Briko babes (with Alice McKennis)
adventures to and from, here and there, home and away, around the world--through my eyes, lens, and mind