The Nendaz Freeride the other weekend was a hell of a time, I qualified through to the finals in 23rd place with only 24 making the cut out of a total field of 60 ski men.
I had a mega fun time skiing my line in the finals and came away with 5th place!
The rest of the kiwi crew also had some good results, with Maria Kuzma in 2nd in Women Snowboard, Hank Bilous 6th Men Ski and Anna Smoothy qualifying for finals but unfortunately loosing a ski to a shark while skiing into her second air, which put her in 9th place overall.
This is a huge result for me, as well as being the first time I have placed top 5 in an international FWQ 4* competition I consider this to be the best line I have skied in any comp I have done. An even more significant point is that it marks exactly 2 years since I crashed in the qualification day of the same competition, badly injuring my knee - a ruptured ACL and torn Meniscus resulted in 2 separate surgeries and 10 months of rehab.
The way back from knee injury is one that a huge amount of skiers both competitive and recreational experience.
It takes a lot of patience and a fair amount of commitment, and for some a lot of money depending on where you are from.
As a New Zealander I was very lucky, our health care system is great and with the support of the ACC (accident compensation corporation) I was able to spend 10 months post injury totally focused on getting fixed and strong. Having that time to recover without stress or worry for money was only possible with the support of the ACC and especially my family. It was a huge opportunity and making the most of that has paid off.
I have been waiting to send it on that face since the first time I saw it in 2014. Last year I had a taste when I qualified for the finals on the tail end of my rehab. I skied a mellow line and kept within what my knee could handle, but I also spent a lot of time looking at the various parts of the line I wanted to ski this year.
Immediately after the event this result along with 2nd at the NZ Open 3* and 6th at Jasna Adrenalin 4* had me sitting in 4th overall on the FWQ and 2nd in my region which is Europe-Oceania.
Since this weekend where a bunch of 3* events happened, I have been bumped down to 10th overall and 6th in my region, although I am still in the running.
With one more FWQ 4* event in both America and Europe as well as two more 3* stops things will likely change significantly by the end of the season. If I want to ensure I am one of the top 3 Europe-Oceania riders to qualify for the FWT I will probably need to win a 3* and a 4* although it still could be possible to scrape through with less.
It's getting pretty exciting, it looks like any of the skiers in the top 10 on the ranking has the potential to be in the top 3 by the end of the season.
So that pretty much means - Send it Jerry!
After my injury Lachlan Humphreys approached me with the idea to make a short film documenting my accident and the rehab process which would eventually come to an end with me competing in the New Zealand Open FWQ 3* in the 2015 Southern Hemisphere season, where I placed 2nd.
This film is called Re-Establishment and was shown at the Wanaka Mountain Film Festival in 2015. The goal of the film was to show what its like to come back from a major injury to those who haven't experienced it first hand, as well as to create something relatable to people who have.
The film will be online pretty soon. I hope you will give it a look!