Skiing the world’s alpine heights
Alpine ski racer Piera Hudson is thrilled to be home in Havelock North after another successful season, including making ski racing history at the Junior World Championship and two career bests.
Hawke’s Bay may not see her compete but a tick of approval from the province to realise her Winter Olympic dreams means a lot to Piera. She was a regional junior sportsperson of the year finalist at the Pettigrew-Green Arena, Taradale, on May 21.
“It means a lot just to be nominated because Sport Hawke’s Bay has always supported me,” says Piera. The 20-year-old was a finalist last year for the first time, but cyclist Regan Gough etched his name on the silverware.
“Skiing isn’t a popular sport in the Bay of course, so that’s why a privilege to be recognised.”
Most of us take summer for granted but for Hudson, winter is a constant season and she has just completed her 22nd back to back winter on the Federation of International Ski Racing (FIS) circuit. The 20 year old has been representing New Zealand since she was nine years old.
“The season’s highlight for me was achieving 18 FIS points at Bad Hofgastein, Austria. From a bib start of 21 in a field of 74 women, I skied into 7th finish position. The 18 FIS point result is the second best Giant Slalom FIS result in NZ history ever for a Kiwi female and Iwas up against the top World Cup Austrian women.
“I was also pleased in achieving NZ’s best ever result in Giant Slalom for both men and women in Alpine Junior World Championships history. This year they were held in Sochi, Russia and with a bib start of 39, I finished in 16th position from a field of 80 athletes.
“This season I also took first position in Super G at Copper Mountain USA and back to back Super Gwins at Aspen Highlands, USA from a field of 42 and shared the podium with World Cup winner and four time winter Olympian Sarah Schleper.”
NZ Alpine Women’s team coach Jonny Rice says the 2016 season was challenging for all Alpine athletes but Piera yielded some excellent results.
“The poor early snow conditions in Europe meant that we relocated our team to North America where we got excellent racing and training conditions. This set Piera up with the mileage and confidence necessary to be successful. With a 16th position at the World Junior Championships and consistent top 10 results on the FIS circuit she is now in a position where she can legitimately challenge for an Olympic Team place and make inroads into the European and World Cups.”
“There are 3700 FIS registered women from 70 nations who compete in Giant Slalom alone.”
Hudson is ranked in the top 205. At 20 she is young, with 28 the average age of women competing on the World Cup circuit. This NZ winter will be the start of a new Winter Olympic qualification cycle and the programme for the next four years will be centred on qualifying for the Winter Olympics in 2018.
Alpine is not funded by Sport NZ, so Piera’s family started Coastal Cowhides fundraising initiative with 100 per cent of the proceeds covering Piera’s $120,000, 10-month programme so she can stay on snow representing New Zealand. Erskine and Owen NZ Property Investment and Management and The Burnett Charitable Trust have contributed toward her efforts to finance herself toward the 2018 Winter Olympics.
You can help by either purchasing any cowhide product from Coastal Cowhides online www.coastalcowhides.co.nz or by donating to the NZ Alpine Ski Foundation Charitable Trust.
WINTER WONDER: Piera Hudson has just completed her 22nd back-to-back winter.