Skiing the world’s alpine heights

Havelock North Village Press - - News -

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.

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