Sam Smoothy, Mitchey Greig, Janina Kuzma, Lyndon Sheehan, Byron Wells, Jossi Wells
After the best season in the history of NZ freeskiing it comes as no surprise that when the 2010 freeski teams were announced, all six existing national team members remained at the helm.
Mitchey Greig of Queenstown became the first freeskier to represent New Zealand at a Winter Olympics Games at the first-ever Olympic Skier Cross event. She is ranked 24th in the world.
After dominating the southern hemisphere season, winning The North Face Big Mountain competition at the Volkl Open and the World Heli Challenge, big mountain skier Janina Kuzma had a stellar northern hemisphere season too.
She was on the podium several times and ended her season ranked fifth overall on the Freeride World Tour and second on the Freeride World Qualifying Tour, earning a coveted spot on the Freeride World Tour next year.
After placing fifth in halfpipe at both the Volkl NZ Freeski Open and the inaugural Winter Games NZ, where he was up against the world’s best, Lyndon Sheehan of Wanaka received an invite to the prestigious X-Games where unfortunately he injured his knee but he’s on the mend and will soon be ready to once gain show the world that he’s a force to be reckoned with.
Sam Smoothy of Cromwell ended his southern hemisphere season with a podium finish in The North Face Big Mountain competition at the Volkl Open, he went on to win his first competition of the northern hemisphere season at Engadinsnow in Switzerland. Unfortunately his season was cut short by a knee injury at the next competition. Even with a shortened season his results for the year were strong enough to earn his spot on the Freeride World Tour next year.
Byron Wells of Wanaka, has just come of a best-ever year. His podiums during the southern hemisphere season included a first place at the Queenstown Winter Festival Rail Jam, a third place at the Parklife Rail Jam Invitational and a third place at the Winter Games NZ Big Air competition. He had top ten finishes in several of the major Northern Hemisphere international competitions and In the best performance of his career, he took fifth place at the European X Games Superpipe. He was also on the podium in Superpipe at the Aspen Open, the largest open event in North America.
Over the past year Jossi Wells has been on fire. In addition to his Overall World Championship he came home with the 2010 AFP Superpipe Title, Silver in Superpipe from the X Games, the Overall Dew Tour Ski Superpipe Championship, a gold at the Austrian Open and a Bronze in Slopestyle at the European X Games.
Throughout the Southern Hemisphere winter he took first place in halfpipe at the Volkl NZ Freeski Open, first at the Parklife Rail Jam Invitational and a second in slopestyle at the NZ Winter Games.
Over the 2009 southern hemisphere season Jossi was honoured as the Central Otago Junior Sportsman of the Year, the Central Otago Supreme Sportsman of the Year, the Otago Junior Sportsperson of the Year, the New Zealand Freeskier of the Year and he was recipient of the Halberg/Westpac Trust Emerging Talent Award.
The New Zealand National Team is comprised of those at the pinnacle of International Freeskiing, gaining top ten results at international events. They positively represent and influence the sport of freeskiing on and off snow. They are committed as professional skiers and are respected by both their peers and public alike.
The makeup of the team is a world first, in that the team is selected across all disciplines including skier cross, big mountain, slopestyle and halfpipe.
The next tier down, the Development Squad, represents New Zealand’s rising talent. These members have been identified by the selection panel as skiers with potential to someday become members of the national team.
Freeskiing continues to grow in scope and popularity around the world and is gaining recognition within the International Federation of Ski (FIS). New Zealand will host the first ever FIS Slopestyle competition at the upcoming Junior World Championships in August 2010 and Freeski Halfpipe has been approved by FIS and is being put before the IOC for inclusion in the 2014 Winter Olympic Games. The X-Games has now added a European stop and after its second year the Dew Tour is an overwhelming success.