Jack­son takes sil­ver

Kapi-Mana News - - FRONT PAGE - By AN­DREA O’NEIL

He may live in Queen­stown for the win­ter months, but ris­ing ski star Jack­son Rich is a Porirua boy through and through.

The 13-year-old from Plim­mer­ton has just re­turned from Lake Ta­hoe, United States, where he placed sec­ond in an alpine slalom event, beat­ing about 80 skiers of his age. Many of his com­peti­tors were full­time skiers with spon­sor­ships.

‘‘I had a good race. Quite a few of the re­ally good guys crashed be­cause it was quite a tough course,’’ he says.

Jack­son and his fam­ily – mum, dad and lit­tle brother Buddy – re­side in Queen­stown for a cou­ple of months ev­ery win­ter to get as much ski­ing in as much as pos­si­ble. The fam­ily skis from 8am to noon on week­days, and all day on week­ends. Par­ents Julie and Phil are teach­ers, so home­school the boys for the lessons they miss in the morn­ings.

The fam­ily wouldn’t con­sider a per­ma­nent move down south, how­ever.

‘‘We love it here. I just love sail­ing and div­ing,’’ Jack­son says.

The keen sports­man also plays ten­nis and does triathlons. He has been ski­ing since he was two, and loves the sport for the feel­ing of speed and free­dom it gives him. ‘‘In the early morn­ings me and dad some­times bomb down, just go as fast as we can down the whole moun­tain. You just go so fast and it’s just like ‘whooooa’.’’

His re­cent trip to the US was or­gan­ised through his ski team QAST (Queen­stown Alpine Ski Team). Five boys aged 12 to 14 trav­elled with coach and ‘‘camp dad’’ Tim Cafe, an Olympian skier. It was Jack­son’s first time over­seas, and he was too ea­ger and ner­vous to sleep on the plane.

The team were based at Squaw Val­ley, Lake Ta­hoe, and skied ev­ery day, train­ing for week­end con­tests against mostly Amer­i­can skiers. The lo­cals were tough com­pe­ti­tion. ‘‘They all had epic, amaz­ing gear,’’ Jack­son says. ‘‘I was the small­est and youngest.’’

The first week­end he raised his rank­ing 64 places to 13th, and the sec­ond week­end he took his sil­ver tro­phy.

Vic­tory isn’t a new feel­ing for Jack­son, who was North Is­land pri­mary school cham­pion three years ago and took the in­ter­me­di­ate ti­tle last year.

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