Jackson takes silver
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.