With snow falling on the mountains around Queenstown and Wānaka, New Zealand’s elite ski and snowboard athletes breathed a sigh of relief as alert level two was announced outside of Auckland.
Among the first up the mountain will be big air and slopestyle freeskier Margaux Hackett, who’s been itching to get back on the snow.
“Tomorrow looks like a really good powder day up Treble Cone, I can’t wait to get back up there, it feels like it’s been a long-time off mountain,” said Hackett.
The 22-year-old is one of New Zealand’s up-and-coming freeski athletes. Hackett competes in slopestyle and big air, and is working towards the New Zealand Team for the Beijing Winter Olympic Games.
She spent lockdown at home in Wānaka where she used the home gym to keep fit and even knitted her dad a beanie.
Hackett is now turning her attention back to skiing and with just 150 days until the Beijing Winter Olympic Games, time on the snow is vital.
“Tomorrow we’ll all just head up and enjoy getting back on the snow. Then at the end of the week, it’ll be all go, the weather’s getting a bit better so we’ll be able to start properly training again up on Cardrona.”
“This is a key training block for us before we head off to the northern hemisphere. Time on the snow gives us New Zealanders a bit of an advantage before going back on the competition circuit. It’s going to be great to get back up the mountain and get back to work.”
For winter athletes the move to level four in August was a tough pill to swallow. There had just been a huge snow dump, creating perfect training conditions.
“It’s been a frustrating few weeks, I was just getting to the point in the season where I was ready to do my hardest tricks on snow and then we went into lockdown,” said Margaux.
“But we’ve got to look at the positives, we’re just coming into spring now which can be really nice up the mountain, the snow’s a bit softer which makes the landings easier so I’m super excited to get amongst.”
Hackett is departing New Zealand for Europe in October and hopes to be competing at the Beijing Winter Olympic Games in February 2022.Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games