Our BSA group arrived from Melbourne to Christchurch on August 25th. The views coming into New Zealand were spectacular. The country is covered with large, bright blue lakes, and although we didn’t land directly amongst the mountains, their sharp peaks were visible from the window between the clouds. 

By the time we made it through customs, ordered lunch and went to our hotel, it was late afternoon. The customs regulations for both Australia and New Zealand were extremely strict. Both countries, in their isolated locations, have developed such unique ecosystems that any foreign organic material could collapse the balance of biodiversity on their islands. 
Some of us that arrived early to Christchurch were able to take a closer look at native New Zealand species, as we visited the city's botanical gardens. Since we were in the Southern hemisphere, winter was getting close to its end, so some of the gardens were relatively empty, but there was a wide range of year-round trees that I had never seen before. 

We drove into downtown Christchurch for dinner. One noticeably different aspect of New Zealand, compared to other countries where I've dined, is their depth of alternative diet options. Practically every restaurant or cafe visited on this trip has had a gluten free and vegan menu, which made life much easier for our group. 
The following day we set off on our five hour drive to Arrowtown. So far, I haven’t seen an area of New Zealand that isn’t scenic (or covered with sheep) and of course this drive was no exception. We stopped at the beautiful Lake Tekapo and Lake Pukaki on the way there and back. 
Those staying in Queenstown or Arrowtown usually ski at either Coronet Peak or the Remarkables (actually visible from Coronet Peak). The other ski area that Arrowtown/Queenstown visitors can access is Cardrona, located a little further from the valley than the other two. Our race series (once again two slaloms and two giant slaloms) was held at Coronet. 

This trip wasn’t my first time skiing in New Zealand, in fact I had been to Coronet Peak at the same time last year. Unfortunately, that trip was cut short when I dislocated my shoulder, training GS on the very hill where we were about to race. Naturally, I was a bit anxious coming back to that piste, but my nerves were calmed when I rode the first chair up and saw the amazing colourful sunrise. 

The races at both Hotham and Coronet were part of the Australia New Zealand Cup (a high standard for racers). The series at Coronet was even more competitive than in Hotham - there were several racers who had been in the top ten of World Cups, from countries such as Austria, Germany, Italy, Slovakia and Switzerland. Even Ted Ligety entered into the slalom race, though he decided not to ski his second run. 

The spring conditions of constant freezing and melting snow had left the hill pretty icy - which was actually a positive, when you consider how many racers were entered, espicially on the men's side, numbering 70-80. The harder the snow, the better the course holds up, and the more fair it is to all competitors, even those running later. Even with the hard snow surface, the boys with the higher bib numbers were left with quite a rough course. 

From our group, we had two personal bests, but I believe that the New Zealand segment of this trip was more about experience than results. We were definitely one of the younger teams there; the majority of our group was only second year FIS (with two first years and one third year) while some of the winning racers had already had five or more seasons. Our coach Simone advised us to watch the winners and the fast skiers to see how they were skiing during the race and also to observe their preparation before it. 

We spent the last day after the races walking around Queenstown. There were many souvenir shops, and plenty of All Black rugby team paraphernalia. I was also pleased to hit what I think of as the three most classic Queenstown destinations: Ferg Burgers, the Cookie Time Cookie Bar and the shore of Lake Wakatipu. Throughout the week we had also explored downtown Arrowtown which was significantly smaller than Queenstown, but very charming with its shops and array of 15 or so restaurants. 

New Zealand was the final destination of the summer, and as of now I am travelling back home to Vail, Colorado, to start my final year of High School. This summer has undoubtedly been the busiest of my life, but I have had such an amazing skiing and travel experience. 

I am very grateful to BSA for organizing all these ski camps and can’t thank them enough for this rewarding summer. I also want to thank my ski equipment sponsors (Atomic, POC / 2pure, Reusch, Tenson, Slick Willy's, Leki) as this sport is not cheap. Finally thank you to those reading this blog. I hope that I have given you a decent understanding of ski race travel in the summer. It is highly recommended!

Visiting Lake Pukaki

Friday 07 September, 1800 to 2000

Gate training with coaching from GB number 2 Laurie Taylor, and the two top-ranked British ladies on dry slopes, Lauren Vale and Nicole Shering, and former top ranked dry slope racer Malcolm Erskine

£30 including ski pass if pre-booked online Forty racers maximum - 30 Places available


Access to gates without training will depend on numbers, £20, cash only

Saturday 08 September, Welsh Outdoor Champs

Race support with Lauren, Nicole and Malcolm
£30  if pre-booked online

Booking only available online via BSA website

Before the skiing segment of the Austrailia trip, my mom, dad and I spent a few days in Melbourne. Australia is in the UTC+10 timezone, which is 16 hours ahead of Colorado. However, we viewed our day as being six hours behind that of MST, just on the next day. I personally have a harder time travelling West than East, and had trouble staying awake past 7:30 on our first night. 

The next day, we rode the public tram through Melbourne just to get a feel for the city. We walked by the Yarra River, stopped in a vintage clothing shop and visited the Australian Centre for the Moving Image - a free interactive film museum. ACMI had the history of televisions and movies along with many exhibits, including one for virtual reality. I was glad to have been in South Africa a week before, as both locations had cold winter conditions. 

After a jetlag induced nap in our hotel room, my family went to the Queen Victoria Night Market. We talked to some of the locals at the event, who explained some differences between the day and night market. Generally, the day market had more retail shopping booths scattered with some restaurant locations, but the entire area was far more spread out. The night market was more of a social gathering crowded with other people. All of the booths were under a massive pavilion area. One side of the pavilion had live music while the other had a fire eating performer. The majority of the stands sold food with a few retail shops scattered throughout the area. These sold more unique products, like lighted balloons, wood carvings and dream catchers, whereas the day market sold every day items like towels or grocery fruit and vegetables. During our stay we made a visit to the day market as well. 

My family and I also travelled to an interactive Australian wild life preserve. Australia has an extremely unique ecosystem containing marsupial species found only on its island so most of the animals at the preserve I had never seen before. That night we visited the Chinatown segment of Melbourne and the next day we met the rest of the ski group, consisting of five boys, four girls (myself included) and two coaches.

Our first ski resort destination was Falls Creek. We drove for six hours mainly uphill, and it was as if we travelled through several continents. The first segment of the drive was in an empty arid desert that was fairly warm. Next, we passed through eucalyptus forests that were humid and remnant of a rainforest. Finally, we reached the snowy roads leading up to the mountain. We checked into our apartment- which was conveniently located on the mountain for skiing in and out. 
There isn’t much of a town surrounding Falls Creek, mainly hotels and restaurants. I was therefore surprised to learn that my dad has a friend who lives at the resort year round- Steve Lee- another ex racer, who is one of two Australian men to ever win a skiing world cup race. Steve picked my dad and I up for dinner at his house one night, on a snowmobile towing a bench behind him. This was the most efficient way to travel across the resort as all the roads were below the town, and the paths between the buildings were under 3-4 feet of snow.
The weather was variable in Falls Creek, it sometimes got very foggy, but we had five solid days of training with two slalom races. At these races, we had one personal best score, which means that one of our athletes scored their lowest FIS point result ever (counter-intuitively, the lower points the better). 
The next race series was at Mount Hotham, also in Australia. This time our group stayed off the mountain, in a town called Dinner Plain, about a 20 minute drive away. The races at Hotham were part of the Australia New Zealand Cup, a continental cup, and were therefore quite high level. There were skiers from Germany, Switzerland, Austria, the USA, Slovakia, Norway and Italy. Some of them had competed in World Cups or the Olympics. 

Of all the places I have skied this summer, (Les Deux Alpes, Tiffindell SA, Falls Creek AUS, Coronet Peak NZL) Mount Hotham’s snow conditions were the most familiar to me as they reminded me of a Colorado winter. The series consisted of four races- two slalom and two GS. From those races, five BSA athletes scored personal bests and lowered their points. There was one scheduled day where it was too foggy to hold a race, so we had to take a weather day, and leave Australia a day later than expected. 
Skiing in Australia was almost as odd as skiing in South Africa. In most other ski resorts, the main divider between two ski runs are pine trees. Occasionally, there are patches of spaced out aspen trees that you can ski through but of course in the winter they have lost all their leaves. In Falls Creek and Hotham, the only trees present were eucalyptus. In some areas they were dense enough to create separate trails like pine trees. But certain in areas where the trees were small and spaced out, you could ski around them and under them, as if it were a wooden obstacle course. Additionally, even though it been winter for months, none of the trees had lost their leaves resulting in a beautiful, if not confusing winter scene. 
After ten days of skiing, six races and four travel days we were packed to leave Australia. The next destination would be New Zealand for another series of four races. I am actually in New Zealand now, and will let everyone know how the trip goes soon!