Rupert Goldring spends his year living back to back winter seasons and coaching BASI’s future ski instructors. Despite a self- confessed fear of flying, Rupert sets out the case for experiencing a southern hemisphere winter in New Zealand.
Every time I fly I assume the plane will crash. It is not rational I know, but it is the fact of it. Deathly thoughts rise like a geyser as the flight beckons. The stress is as real as it is ridiculous. Yet I put myself through it. Yearly I take a giant leap around the world, to New Zealand. The pull of the blasted place is so bloody strong. I want you to understand that pull and persuade you to experience it.
I work in Treble Cone. TC is a ski field near Wanaka. It only has two lifts- the local wags suggest TC stands for Two Chairs- but what this belies is a microcosm of the most audacious terrain I know. I have skied throughout the world, and call the French Alps home. No matter, in good condition, TC is up there with the best. The pistes are well groomed and steep. The variable is a natural playground, from powder bowels, vertiginous couloirs, and plentiful bumps. And the views are aching- ahh the music of pictures.
I coach for Rookie Academy, world renowned as a Southern hub for innovative, curious, passionate ski coaches. Most are demo team members for their respective countries- NZ, Australia, USA, Canada, Japan. The esprit de corps is infectious and days-off are spent ski training as a group, problem solving, working on each others’ skiing, and sharing ideas without judgement, ego, or dogma. It is horribly good fun. This open atmosphere is reflected in the coaching of aspirant instructors.
There are advantages to the minimalist terrain. Skiing here is not a trip from one valley to another, one morning coffee stop to a tartiflette lunch. It is a chance to practise, repeat and acquire new skills on terrain that becomes, if not in snow conditions, consistent. It is no coincidence that we are joined on the mountain by World Cup racers from around the globe, training on the best hill in the Southern Hemisphere.
BASI are running a combined Level 1 and Level 2 Alpine course, and a Level 3 Alpine course. The coaches are myself, Rupert Goldring, a veteran of Rookie Academy, and Tom Waddington. Tom is a colleague from the GB demo team. His last experience of TC and Wanaka was as a FIS racer. Tom has a glaring passion for the planks, and charges on the hill. Like me, has a lot of experience coaching all levels in the BASI system.
On landing, the excitement of being back to the Southern Alps allays the tiredness of a 24-hour flight. I spend some minutes staring at a sink in the loos, marvelling as it slurps and swallows water strangely clockwise. Standing outside the terminal at Queenstown airport, I enjoy the sounds of elongated vowels and the smell of wood burners from the town. I wait for the bus to Wanaka, the town I call home in New Zealand. Her image titillates like a first love- the lake, atmosphere, coffees, fishing, Pinot Noir, craft ales. And her views: a splendour beyond all possible measurement.
There you go.
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