Simi Hamilton


South. Way South.

Topic: General News

As in, ‘almost to Antarctica’ south. New Zealand is a special place. Every time I take my seat on my departure flight out of here, I promise myself that the next time I make the 14 hour flight down I’ll bring my backcountry skis. Or my climbing gear. Or my surf board. Or my mountain bike. %$#& it, I’ll throw it all in. Fifteen years ago, if you asked a 13 year-old Simi to draw a picture of where he’d most like to be instantly transported to via a snap of the fingers, it would be a blueprint of the Kiwi landscape. Every time I step off the Air NZ Auckland to Queenstown flight, I’m instantly transported to a “what if” world. What if I could just climb and ski that 3,000′ couloir? Or take my bike on a week long adventure through the incredible back valleys of The Remarkables? Or pack up my truck and drive the circumference of the islands, stopping every few hours at the next surf break or sport crag? With enough obsessive daydreaming, it’ll happen one day, but as it is right now, I’ve only got room for about 10 pairs of training skis, a big duffel of stinky training clothes (no matter how many wash cycles, you never really get rid of it), a backpack full of adventure non-fiction for the down time, and 15 days to make use of all of it.

Conditions have been spectacular here at the Snow Farm, a little secluded XC ski gem nestled in the high mountains north of the Crown Range Pass, in between the alpine towns of Queenstown and Wanaka. In the 5 times that I’ve been down here, I’ve never experienced such amazing skiing right off the bat. Of course, you can’t appreciate the really great days without a few of the miserable ones, hence the collection of adventure non-fiction I have stacked on my bedside table, but that’s part of the game. We’ll undoubtedly have a few training sessions in 60 mile per hour winds blowing all the un-anchored ice crystals (far different from snow) directly into any exposed skin, but those days are fun too, especially when the workout is over and you know there’s a boiling hot shower waiting for you inside (“Type II Fun”).

As a national team, coming down here gives us an incredible opportunity to put in a huge block of on-snow volume, the value of which can’t be understated. Skiing in the summer, on real snow, is a physical and psychological re-certification of sorts… your body and your mind eventually remember the little nuances and specific motions that roller skiing and running can never give you. And being able to revisit that unique feeling of collapsing a classic ski’s pocket or doing all out skate sprints up a 40 degree climb is a game changer when the World Cup season kicks off in November each year.  And when we’re not out on the trails, we treat our bodies well during the 30-hours-a-week training load with home cooked meals, comfy rooms, and an abundance of sleep (it’s pitch-black dark from 5:30-8:00 every night).

So you can say it’s a good life. And although spending two weeks down here with just a ski bag full of xc skis is a bit like showing up to an all-you-can-eat buffet and just eating the free sugar packets on the table, I know that there’ll be a day when I’m back here with way too much gear, no plan at all, and a huge smile on my face.












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