Success for Nico Porteous, Zoi Sadowski Synnott and Adam Hall at the PyeongChang Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games is inspiring the next batch of snow stars.
Josh Crean (18), Ben Harrington (16), Fletcher Craig
(17), and Maggie Little (17) all of Wanaka, are on the national development programme at Snow Sports New Zealand, part of an eight-year strategy to generate future Olympic and Paralympic medallists.
Para alpine skier Josh Crean
had his first day on the adaptive development programme last week, having moved from Auckland to Wanaka to pursue his dreams.
Born with an incomplete left hand, Josh was one of five adaptive athletes at Snow Sports.
‘‘I started skiing when I was pretty young, then there was this ‘Have-a-Go Day’ at Snowplanet [in Auckland] with the paralympics and I met a few of the guys there.’’
After meeting Paralympians Adam Hall and Corey Peters at the event, Josh travelled to Winter Park in Colorado, which the para-alpine team used as their northern hemisphere base.
‘‘When I was over with them in the States it was good watching them and seeing how they lived their lives as pro racers, and doing it alongside them was real cool.’’
Freeskier Ben Harrington
was tapped on the shoulder to join the national development programme when he was 12 years old —‘‘I did my first camp with them then’’.
A key element in his training was ‘‘the rocketship’’ — ‘‘a programme which goes through nutrition, fitness, on-skill movement, sleep hygiene, hydration skills, and shows you where you excel and where you need work.’’
Despite the distractions of teenage life, Ben knew what was important to him.
Skiing ‘‘is all I want to do really, I’d rather do that than go to a party or anything, so I put all my motivation into that.’’
Snowboarder Fletcher Craig
was also 12 when he joined the development programme, starting at the same time as Ben.
Both Ben and Fletcher said it was a ‘‘pretty good feeling’’ to be identified as having Olympic potential at a young age.
‘‘But then you find out the hard work you have to put in,’’ Fletcher said.
Injury was one aspect that could hold you back, plus being able to ‘hold your nerve’ he said.
But it felt great to do well, they both said.
‘‘You’ve got to be able to jump over that mental hurdle, like, I could possibly die but if I land it is going to be pretty cool,’’ Ben said.
‘‘There is nothing like the adrenaline rush when you land a new trick — Ithink that’s what everybody is chasing.
‘‘You get stoked on that afterwards, it makes you want to keep doing more,’’ Fletcher said.
Freeskier Maggie Little was 15 when she was approached to join the programme.
Her parents worked at a skifield ‘‘so I was actually on the snow when I was quite young, but I started competing and getting more into it when I was about 14’’.
‘‘It’s exciting to see that they’ve got such a good programme in place to give us the tools we need to get to where we want to go, so we are pretty lucky.’’
Having a long term plan for her future was something Maggie liked.
‘‘I really like having a clear vision of what’s required of us.’’
With a focus on success, these young athletes were conscious of living up to the chance they had been given.
‘‘It makes you feel pretty proud to know that you’ve been spotted to go forward.’’
Knowing ‘‘you’ve got eyes on you’’ was the motivation to ‘‘step up to the mark’’, Maggie said.