Young skier eighth overall in Europa Cup

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YVONNE O’HARA

yvonne.ohara@alliedpress.co.nz

Wanaka, is already representing New Zealand at some of the world’s top snow skiing competitions and against some of the top adult skiers.

The Mount Aspiring College year 12 pupil won the open grade slopestyle Europa Cup in Vogel, Slovenia, in March, competing against about 50 other skiers, including adults.

He then went on to compete in the Slopestyle World Cup in Seiser Alm, Italy, and more Europa Cup rounds in St Anton, Austria, and Livigno, Italy, placing 14th and 20th.

He is now ranked eighth overall in the Europa Cup tour.

“I love to ski and I love the feeling I get when I ski,” he said. “I like the people, and I like the atmosphere.”

There are six Europa Cup events in France, Slovenia, Austria and Italy and he took part in four this season.

“The Europa tour is one step down from the World Cup and the Olympics,” he said. “There were Olympic competitors on the Europa tour.”

He spends much of the year skiing both in New Zealand and overseas.

“My main goal is to qualify for the 2022 Winter Olympics in China and I want to make a final there.

“I think it is doable.”

However, despite his skills, his teachers have the final say on whether he competes or not.

“I missed a lot of school’s first term as I was away [in Europe] and came back at the end of March.

“The teachers support and help me and provide schoolwork to get done.

“However, if they think I am slipping behind, they are the ones who determine if I can go skiing or not.”

He will spend two or three days a week in the winter skiing, doing his class work when he can. Although he is conscious of its importance, he finds it can be difficult to fit both schoolwork and skiing into his day, especially when he is on the road.

Although he gets some funding from Snowsport New Zealand and sponsors, and he is also coached by Snowsport New Zealand’s Mike Hanley, he said his mum, Nancy Stout, and dad, Greg Harrington, were his biggest supporters.

Mr Harrington is a former World Cup mogul skier and coaches both Ben and his brother Lucca.

“I’ve grown up skiing and have been doing it since I was 18 months old.

“I spent a lot of time in backpacks from a very early age.

“Dad put me in a harness and towed me down the bunny slopes.”

He would like to attend university after high school, and intends to study marketing.

However, at the moment, in addition to skiing, he also plays soccer and hockey and goes skateboarding and surfing.

He wanted to thank his sponsors, Snowsport New Zealand, and his parents.