Ruapehu’s big air legend remembered
The biggest names in the New Zealand freestyle snow sports scene hit Mt Ruapehu on Saturday in memory of one of this country’s freeski legends.
The inaugural Tom Campbell Memorial Big Air event saw NZ Winter Olympians and X Games medallists throw tricks off a huge 60ft+ jump at Turoa ski field.
The event was judged by kiwi snow sports superstars Jossi Wells & Beau-James Wells and was MC’d by NZ Winter Olympian Byron Wells.
Turoa experienced over 4,400 guests on the ski area, which included a huge crowd to watch the athletes put on a show. Athletes included X Games Medallist’s James ‘Woodsy’ Woods, Miguel Porteous, Jackson Wells and Red Bull athlete Nico Porteous.
Mt Ruapehu Marketing Manager Matt McIvor said Tom brought the good weather.
‘‘After fresh snow this week we had a nice window of clear weather and no wind for the athletes to throw tricks for the crowds.’’
Athletes were jumping over Tom’s ashes and a snow groomer named ‘the Black Pearl’, driven by Turoa Grooming and Trails Manager Fred Campbell, Tom’s father.
The NZ Winter Olympians and professional athletes signed posters at the end of the day for the public.
Renowned as ‘‘Ohakune’s favourite son’’, 27-year-old Tom Campbell was killed in a car accident in June this year.
Tom grew up in the central North Island town at the foot of Mt Ruapehu and following in the footsteps of his father Fred, who is Turoa’s current Trails and Grooming Manager, he showed a talent for driving snow groomers on the mountain from an early age.
McIvor said Tom was unique in that he skied everything he built.
‘‘Even the 85 to 100 foot big airs,’’ he said.
‘‘He was often the first to try his new creations to ensure they were riding superbly for other skiers and snowboarders.’’
McIvor said Tom’s death was felt around the world and the Big Air event offered those who knew him a chance to celebrate his life, and show their respect for the work he did, which he loved.
Mt Ruapehu is aiming to make the Tom Campbell Memorial Big Air an annual event.
* Results: Mens Open Ski division - Luke Hughes
Mens Open Snowboard division – Leon Thompson
Male Under 16yrs Snowboard division – Noah Wotton