Cameron Ross is one of Wanaka’s unsung snowsports heroes, helping top para-skiers such as Corey Peters, Adam Hall and Aaron Ewan train and prepare for the Winter Paralympics.
Dr Ross is the Snow Sports NZ performance and technique analyst and his help in developing new sit-ski technology has now been recognised by Sport Otago, which awarded him an innovation award at the regional Otago Sports Awards last Friday.
‘‘The award was for the aerodynamic improvements that we did for Corey’s sit ski. No other countries have looked at the areas we looked at and we did some really good things with it, in a very Kiwi way of getting quite a few people together, doing it on a limited budget and winning on the world stage, which was really nice,’’ Dr Ross said.
‘‘It is more about the team and SSNZ being really supportive of our athletes. There is a lot that goes into putting this together, a lot of people from University of Canterbury engineering department, and also the coaches and the athletes. I am just one small piece of the big puzzle that goes together to help support the athletes,’’ he said.
Dr Ross said the Canterbury engineering school’s collaboration was critical during design and testing phases before Peters unleashed his sit-ski in at the Beijing Winter Paralympics, winning gold and silver medals.
‘‘That last section [of the course] was steep and really long and they were reaching speeds of between 90 and 100kmh. That’s where we optimised the aerodynamics,’’ Dr Ross said.
It was a massive night for Wanaka-based snowsports athletes, with Winter Olympians Zoi Sadowski-Synnott and Nico Porteous, coach Sean Thompson and the Wells family among those receiving awards and accolades.
Sadowski-Synnott picked up her third Otago supreme award for her gold and silver medals at the Winter Olympics in Beijing, while Porteous won best junior sportsman award for his gold medal at the Beijing games.
Thompson won coach of the year for his work with Sadowski-Synnott, and the Wells family (Stacey, Bruce, Jossi, Byron, Beau-James and Jackson) were inducted into the Otago Sports Hall of Fame.
Dr Ross has a PhD in sports science (studying snow athlete performance) from Otago University and has worked for Snow Sports NZ in Wanaka since 2014.
Originally from Australia, Dr Ross studied sports science at the University of Canberra and has worked as a strength and conditioning coach.
At Snow Sports NZ, Ross uses state of the art and very new technology to track and monitor athletes’ biomechanics, find efficiencies, identify areas of injury risk and physical weaknesses.
Another of his recent projects was to create a virtual reality alpine course of the Beijing course to help adaptive athletes prepare for the games.
There were ‘‘quite a few other projects’’ he was also involved in but details were confidential to protect intellectual property and keep a competitive edge.
Keeping Peters’ sit ski on the down-low had required the athlete to be sparing in his use of it overseas and not reveal too much before Beijing, Dr Ross said.