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Speed is essential for skier Jess Hotter,who knows timing is everything.

She began this year on a high, winning first place on the second stop of the Freeride World Tour in British Columbia, Canada.

But racing turned into an escape as the Covid-19 pandemic spread around the world.

Hotter was top of the leader board and was getting close to the final in Verbier, Switzerland, when the virus caught up with the competition.

‘‘Just before finals everything kind of shut down and that’s when we needed to leave, so we missed out on our final competition.’’

Organisers tried to run the competition earlier, asking competitors to get to Verbier within two days, ‘‘but unfortunately the virus managed to win’’ and the competition was cancelled.

The next challenge was finding her way back to New Zealand.

‘‘Luckily I got out of Geneva the day before they closed the airport.’’

Hotter arrived in New Zealand just a few days before the Alert Level 4 lockdown.

‘‘My parents dropped my car off at the airport for me, basically threw the keys to me and pointed to where the car was.’’

Hotter tested negative for Covid-19 and spent lockdown at a home in Ohakune owned by her parents.

She focused on staying fit, ‘‘spending as much time as possible out on a bike, going for walks, going for runs.’’

She used lockdown to forage for fruit, ‘‘making preserves and things like that to keep busy’’.

Now she she is back on the snow, working as a ski patroller at Treble Cone, although it feels strange to be back on skis.

“It is the longest I’ve been without being on skis and ski boots’’.

‘‘It was like, ‘oh wow, my feet are not used to being back in the foot jail’.’’

Hotter was looking forward to being part of The Obsidian, a new mixed team challenge with top athletes taking place during this year’s Winter Games NZ between August 10-20.

A group of New Zealand’s best freeski and snowboard athletes will compete against each other in a series of events including freeride, park jam, big air, and a mountain shred session challenge.

‘‘I’m very excited that we’ve got such an amazing opportunity for all of the Kiwi athletes to get together, spend more time together and work together.’’

The event was an opportunity to extend her skills outside her specialisation.

‘‘I’m pretty excited about it really; it is going to be a lot of fun.’’