This coming September’s Senior Boys NZSS Underwater Hockey tournament at Kilbirnie Pool shapes as one of the most competitive national secondary school sports titles to be contested this year.
Any one of about 10 teams, from the top of the South Island to the top of the North Island, could win, including the leading Wellington schools who filled four of the top five spots at this past weekend’s Central Regional Tournament that was held at the same venue.
Nelson College won both the Junior and Senior Boys titles, with Wellington College teams runners-up in both divisions.
Wellington College Senior A captain Will Durkin praised Nelson College who were something of an unknown to the Wellington teams heading into the tournament.
“We had no idea what they would they were going to be like,” said Will, “ most of us local teams had already played each other multiple times and we all had a pretty good idea of what to expect from most of the teams and the players to look out for.”
“But they put up a good fight, having no previous knowledge themselves of our teams. The final against them was a good game from both sides of the pool.”
Nelson beat Wellington College 4-2 in the Senior Boys final, after coming back from an early 0-1 deficit. One of Nelson’s goals was a penalty shot, which means everyone gets out of the water except for two attackers and one defender and they look to score that way.
Wellington College beat Hutt International Boys’ School in one semi-final and Nelson College beat St Pat’s Town in the other.
Wellington College and HIBS have a healthy local rivalry.
“We have played them several times recently and our results have gone both ways. We would win once, they would win next and then we would win again.”
The local schools play for the Solomon Shield during the regular season, a challenge shield that the holders put up in every game.
“HIBS came into this season with the shield, and then we took it off them and held it for a few weeks, and then literally last week just before the Central Tournament they won it back off us.”
Scots College and St Pat’s Town are also two strong schools in Wellington.
“St Pat’s ended up beating HIBS in the third and fourth playoff and won the bronze medal.”
It’s a similar story in the Northern Zone, where several Bay of Plenty and Auckland schools are all similarly ranked.
Howick College won last weekend’s Northern Zone Tournament, while Tauranga Boys’ College are the defending NZSS Junior Boys and Senior Boys champions, having also won the Senior title in 2017 for the first time.
Wellington College last won the nationals in 2011, but have a successful record, winning the NZSS Senior Boys title 10 times in 14 years between 1998-2001 and again in 2005, 2006 and 2011.
Other Wellington schools to annex the Senior Boys NZSS title include Wellington High School (1985, 1987), HIBS (2003, 2004, 2007) and Scots College (2010, 2012, 2013).
Will spent three years in the Wellington College Junior A team, part of a team that finished second in the Junior nationals in his year 10, but was injured and didn’t play in last year’s Senior nationals as Wellington College came fourth.
Wellington College won the NZSS Swimming title last year, but only a couple of players in the current Senior A underwater hockey squad were also in the swim team last year. Similarly, few players play water polo.
The sport is similar to ice hockey, except underwater and along the bottom of the pool as its name suggests. Games are nine or 10 minute halves, with six players from each team in the water at once.
How do players communicate during games?
“It comes down to the tactics of the game,” explained Will. “That is where it is really important to know where people are in the water. You need to do your personal job and need to trust your teammates that they will too when you are at the bottom of the pool.”
The six players set up in formations. “At Wellington College we play a 2-3-1 formation, which is two forwards, and two wings and a centre in the middle line and then a goalie. But the goalie isn’t like a football or outdoor goalie, they are more like a centre back in football or fullback in rugby.”
The formations change. “When I was trialling for the New Zealand U18 team last year we were being taught to play a different formation, which meant I had to adjust accordingly.”
Plus at any one time only some of the players are actually below water in the thick of the action, owing to players having to come up for air and breath through their snorkels.
“You really want to be on the bottom as much as you can. You can be the best player in a team but you can’t do anything if you are on the surface.”
Wellington College train as a team on Sundays and plays the College Sport Wellington competition on Tuesday nights.
The Wellington College Senior A and Junior A teams that finished runner-up at the Central Regional Tournament are:
Will Durkin, Adam Muir, Ben Stirling, Daniel Markland. Lewie Harland, Caelum de Vos, Tom Adams. Ollie Lau Young. Jacob Rhodes
Mathieu Ewers, Freddie Thorpe, Nicholas Jones, Krishin Cox, Sam Falloon, Tim Stirling. Jed McLachlan. Daniel Ewers, Ben Kuggeleijn, Luke Rhodes, Max Coram
This year, two teams of equal ability will be selected to compete for the Southern Cross Trophy against the six Australian states and the Australian Capital Territory in the 2019 Australian Schools Championships from 27 September -6 October.
The teams are:
Non-travelling reserves (in order of selection)
Senior Boys: Thomas Brendolise (AK), Michael McCormack (AK)
Senior Girls: Anna Cory-Wright (AK), Rebecca Greenwood (AK)Junior Boys: Daniel Wood (CM), James McGuire (CM)
Junior Girls: Rachel Duston (AK), Pippa Plummer (NW)
* Anna Duston’s selection is dependent on her proving her fitness to the Selection Panel’s satisfaction at either the North Island Secondary Schools Championships (18 – 20 July) or the New Zealand Secondary Schools Championships (23 – 25 August)
They have caught the adventure racing bug at Taradale High School.
This past Queen’s Birthday weekend a team of 44 Taradale High School students travelled to the Blue Lake Reserve to compete in the annual 3D Rotorua Multisport Festival.
The mixed team of year 9 to 13 students competed in the 30km New Zealand Secondary School Multisport Championships (kayaking, mountain biking and trail running), as well as shorter running and duathlon races.
There were 38 athletes entered in boys and girls U16 and U19 categories in the NZSS Multisport race, with competitors from schools in the Bay of Plenty, North Harbour, Northland, Hawke’s Bay, Taupo, Taranaki, Manawatu, Wellington and Canterbury represented.
Taradale HS athletes won four categories, with Greer Findlay winning the 5.5km run, Ben Smyth winning the Duathlon and Ben Wilson and Matt Adams winning the respective U14 and U19 NZSS Multisport divisions. Sophie Hogan and Jaimee Wilson also finished second and third in the Girls U19 race.
U19 winner Matt Adams was returning from last year and was pleased with his race.
“I did this event last year and I was second in the U16 race, but last year I crashed on the bike leg and my time was over 10 minutes faster this time,” said year 12 student Matt.
Matt was third across the line, with U16 division athletes filling three of the first four places overall.
Whakatane High School U16 athletes, Hayden Sisson and Ari Goodman were first and second overall and Matt’s U16 and year 11 Taradale HS teammate Campbell Gray was fourth.
The 30 km race consisted of a 5 km paddle, a 20 km mountain bike ride and then a 5 km trail run home to the finish.
Conditions were fine and cold, but the tracks were soft and muddy following recent rain.
Matt is mostly a runner – and the longer the better.
“I train mostly for running and have done half marathons and did a full marathon in Waihi last year.
“But in this event just gone the mountain biking is much longer it is where you can make the most gains. On Sunday my best leg was the bike. For example, I was three minutes behind teammate Campbell Gray on the kayak but I caught up to him on the bike. We raced into transition together but I held him off on the run.”
In February, Matt and good friend Jack Graney (didn’t compete at the 3D in Rotorua) competed in the Coast to Coast, the famous race that traverses on side of the South Island to the other.
“Jack and I competed in the tandem category, which means we have to stick together for the whole race. We did heaps of training for that and it was great fun.”
Matt’s goal is to enter the Coast to Coast in 2021 as an individual.
The Taradale High School’s adventure racing team’s next race together is the North Island 6-hour Hillary Challenge race in Rotorua/Taupo on 23 June. “These are the Hillary Challenge qualifiers, and the team comprises four boys and four girls.”
Last year the team didn’t enter the Hillary Challenge qualifiers so making the Hillary Challenge Finals is a goal for the team to aspire for. The combined New Plymouth BHS/GHS team won this year’s national event.
There are some strong rivalries amongst Hawke’s Bay schools such as Taradale HS, Havelock North High School and Napier Boys’ and Girls’ High Schools in all the multisport, adventure racing and orienteering events and one or more is invariably prominent.
Like all adventure racing schools, students from several sporting backgrounds come together to form Taradale HS’s team.
“We train three mornings a week together, but personally I did a lot of kayaking and running on my own. I like to train in the mountains if I can, so a couple of weeks before the event I did my long 21km run in the Kaweka Ranges.”
Taradale High School 3D Multisport Festival results:
NZSS Multisport Championships
1st U19 Matt Adams
1st U14 Ben Wilson
2nd U19 Sophie Hogan
3rd U19 Jaimee Wilson
3rd U16 Campbell Gray
1st Greer Findlay
2nd Grace Hogan
3rd Ella Hogan
2nd Sean Findlay
1st Ben Smyth
2nd Finn Durrant
3rd Dom Collins
The combined New Plymouth Boys’ High School / New Plymouth Girls’ High School teams are the 2019 Hillary Challenge Final winners.
The combined New Plymouth team fought it out all week with the second placed finishers, the combined Whangarei Boys’ High School / Whangarei Girls’ High School team.
From the Hillary Challenge Facebook page:
“What an amazing battle they had all week with second placed Whangarei Girls and Boys. Whangarei led after day two by 200 points, but a super strong rogaine expedition saw New Plymouth claw that back to be just a handful of points in front going into the final multi-sport race.
“The two teams raced head-to-head all day over the final 50km of paddling, trail running and mountain biking with New Plymouth edging further ahead with a 12 minute win. At the end of the 5 days they were separated by a mere 31 points, making this one of the closest finishes in Hillary Challenge history.
“Motueka High School, competing in the final for the very first time moved from 8th to 3rd place with a very strong final 3 days of racing. A very impressive effort!
This was the 19th running of the event, held at the Hillary Outdoors Tongariro Centre from 29 April – 3 May.
The event is only open to a total of 12 teams, each consisting of eight students from Years 12 or 13. The teams are scored on their skill, speed and endurance during a 5-day series of outdoor adventure challenges, including a 2-day rogaine style wilderness expedition and a multisport race on the final day. In true adventure racing tradition, the exact details of all challenges will be kept secret until the event.
Final results below:
Adventure racing is a fast growing sport in many schools, with several leading events around the country on the secondary schools calendar for competitors to train for and compete in.
One of these is the New Zealand Secondary Schools Adventure Racing Championships that was held in Cromwell this past Saturday.
The 14th annual NZSS Adventure Race attracted a number of four-person school teams from throughout the South Island and also some North Island schools including from as far north as Whangarei.
The one-day race mixed core disciplines of mountain biking, walking/running, kayaking, abseiling and navigation, with mental agility as well as physical fitness a core requirement for success.
The teams competed together in Boys, Girls and Mixed divisions. Mount Aspiring College won the Boys, Cashmere High School won the Girls and St Andrew’s College took out the Mixed division.
The Mount Aspiring College Boys team won in 6 hours 58 minutes, with StAC’s Mixed team finishing in 7 hours and 19 minutes and Cashmere High School’s Girls team recording 8 hours and 12 minutes.
The winning Mount Aspiring team of three year 12s, Campbell Wright, Laurie Watson and Jack Findlay had started adventure racing in year 10 together and pulled in Zach Smith (year 11) for the South Island adventure race two weeks prior.
They have competed against each other in triathlon but trained together for that with excellent coaches including Chris Waugh from Mt Aspiring Tri Club and Val Burke of Peak Endurance. They were very organised and worked really well as a team, breaking away from the pack only 200m into the start of the ride in the 6am darkness for a 5 minute lead at TA1.
That all blew to bits during the trek when CP1 proved difficult to locate though and the front teams were all searching for it together, after finding it they all left there together and Mt Aspiring knew they had to push hard to regain the lead.
Laurie made a brave navigational decision to take them up a high point which meant they then had the benefit of moving fast down a farm track. Their lead grew from there back on the mountain bikes with Campbell as motivator driving them ever onwards and the team supporting each other through the low points of racing. Abseiling, an orienteering leg and then kayaking left them with a solid win.
StAC’s team were third across the line, behind the leading two Boys team finishers, Mount Aspiring College and Cashmere High School (seniors) and ahead of the third Boys team, Cashmere High School (juniors).
The event started with a 12km mountain bike ride from Cromwell College up into the hills behind Bannockburn to the first transition.
From there, they did a trek gaining over 1000m in elevation finding and picking up several checkpoints along the way. This took the leading teams between three to three and a half hours.
The third leg saw the teams transitioning back to mountain bikes, then winding their way across the top of the mountain and back into Bannockburn. This took approximately and hour and a half on average.
Back down at headquarters, competitors then dropped their bikes and were asked to run about 1km up the hill and then do an abseil down a rock face and run back again.
Next they were given an orienteering card with 11 checkpoints on it, which they had to go away and complete. This took teams about an hour.
The final leg saw the four-person teams split into two-person kayaks and kayak 8-9km back into Cromwell, picking up three checkpoints on the way.
StAC’s team consisted of three boys and one girl.
Their team captain was Henry Spark (year 12), who was part of the StAC’s team that won the schools Coast to Coast race in February.
“One key to doing well in this team event is that you need someone who can read maps really well,” said StAC’s teacher in charge Greg Thompson. “So he was the navigator. If you don’t have a navigator you can spend a lot more time just trying to work out where to go [as happened, see above]. You have got to be thinking the whole time.
“Most teams have a dedicated navigator, and other team members have different roles. So someone might be in charge of eating and drinking properly and someone else with equipment and so on.”
In these races, teams know what to train for and prepare for, but are only given the course map the night before, so they can go away and study and plan their route as best as they can before the race the next morning.
The other three members of StAC’s team were Molly Spark (year 11, related to Henry but not his sister), Tom Wells (year 12) and Ben Ferrier (year 11).
StAC’s preparation for the NZSS race included competing in the South Island Secondary Schools race a fortnight ago in Gore – although it was with a completely different team.
“We finished second in that one, and had a year 10 and a year 11. The other students competing this past weekend were doing a mountain bike race in Hamner instead.”
Cashmere High School had six teams competing at the event. The winning girls team, Charlotte Doogue, Lilly van Keulen, Nina MacDonald and Eva Elliot, will be joined by athletes from the top Boys team Neal Hay and Will Sherratt in Cashmere's Hillary Challenge team early next term.
One of the next events coming up for school teams is one of the two annual Hillary Challenge 6-hour races.
This year's 6-hour races are in the North Island (In Rotorua on 23 June) and in the South Island (in Geraldine on 26 May). These are qualifiers for the Hillary Challenge final at the Tongariro Centre in the central North Island in 2020.
The 19th annual challenge to find the top Secondary School Outdoor Adventure Team in New Zealand - from teams that qualified from the 6-hour races last year - will take place 29 April – 3 May.
The 5-day Torpedo7 Hillary Challenge is held each year at Hillary Outdoors Tongariro, and is only open to a total of 12 teams, each consisting of 8 students from Year 12 or 13. The teams will be scored on their skill, speed and endurance during a 5-day series of outdoor adventure challenges, including a 2-day rogaine style wilderness expedition and a multisport race on the final day.
Schools that have qualified for the 2019 final are;
Whangarei Girls and Boys High (Whangarei)
New Plymouth Girls and Boys High Schools (Taranaki)
Motueka High School (Motueka)
Cambridge High School (Cambridge)
St Pauls Collegiate (Hamilton)
Macleans College (Auckland)
Westlake Girls and Boys High Schools (Auckland)
Middleton Grange (Christchurch)
Golden Bay High School (Golden Bay)
Cashmere High (Christchurch)
Francis Douglas/Sacred Heart (Taranaki)
Waimea College (Nelson)
NZSS Adventure Racing Championships, Cromwell 30 March 2019, top three placegetters from each grade:
1st: Mount Aspiring College
2nd: Cashmere High School (seniors)
3rd: Cashmere High School (juniors)
1st: Cashmere High School
2nd: Whangarei Girls’ High School
3rd: Columba College
1st: St Andrew’s College
2nd: Mount Aspiring College
3rd: Cromwell College
Pakuranga College took out the 2019 NZSS Baseball Championships at the tournament at nearby Lloyd Ellsemore Park in Auckland over Summer Tournament Week.
Pakuranga beat One Tree Hill College in a tense and nail-biting final – winning 12-11.
Individually, Jayden Ruhe was named the tournament’s Best Batter and Traye Wildbore was named Player of the Tournament. These two Pablo Montano were named in the tournament team from Pakuranga College.
Pakuranga won the tournament after recovering from a first-up 6-11 loss to Auckland Grammar School.
Gold - Pakuranga College
Silver – One Tree Hill College
Bronze – Auckland Grammar
Top hitter – Jayden Ruhe (Pakuranga College)
Top pitcher – Taiki Yamada (One Tree Hill College)
MVP – Traye Wildbore (Pakuranga College)
Right now, Alice Robinson is probably the hottest ticket in New Zealand secondary school sport.
Last week at the season ending senior elite ski racing [FIS Alpine] World Cup Finals in Andorra, Alice finished second in the giant slalom - a massive achievement.
There was little time for celebration, leaving the snow the following day and boarding a plane bound for home and back to a normal teenaged life as a year 13 student at Wakatipu High School in Queenstown.
“I am back home at school now, but will probably be going to America in May to a camp in California, but I will do a few blocks in New Zealand during the winter and then prepare for the World Cup season that starts in October in Europe," says Alice.
Alice was in illustrious company on the podium in Andorra last week, and she admits it is still sinking in.
“Winner Mikaela Shiffrin is the current Olympic champion and World Cup champion for giant slalom and then the skier who finished third behind me, Petra Vlhova, is the the current World Champion – so it is quite good company," Alice modestly acclaims.
The season ending World Cup finals in Andorra saw the top ranked giant slalom women from the season come together for the event. Alice earned her World Cup finals entry by winning the giant slalom at the Junior World Championships last month.
“Normally there is about 70 in the field, but this is World Cup finals and only the top 20 are invited and I also got invited because of winning World Juniors, so I was running last.”
Remarkably, Alice, the youngest competitor in the field, skied down the course after all the others to record the third fastest time after the first run of two, before putting in a sizzling second run to finish in the silver medal position and finish just .0.30s behind world number one Shiffrin of the USA and ahead of Slovakian Petra Vlhova.
Above: Watch Alice Robinson's second run in Andorra last week, that saw her climb from third to second in the season-ending event. Big crowds at the bottom of the course and lots of New Zealand support.
This was New Zealand’s first World Cup medal in 17 years. What does she attribute this stunning success to?
“I have been skiing really well and my training has been going well. I knew it was possible, but I knew I had to put down a really good run so it was pretty exciting,” says Alice.
After finding herself in contention halfway through the event, what was Alice thinking? “People asked me if I was nervous but I was more just excited because I knew it was a really great opportunity and whatever happened it was still going to be an awesome result so I just tried to keep calm and have some fun.”
Alice said it was also special to be crowned Junior World Champion a few weeks previously – the first time a New Zealander has won a junior world title in alpine ski racing.
“The World Juniors was where I was based in Italy in the Dolomites, so it was really cool to win that. After the first run I was 0.9s behind the leader, and then I had another good run and managed to win.”
She recorded the fastest time on the second run to win the Junior World Giant Slalom title by 1.06s, with Swiss and Norweigan skiers second and third.
Prior to winning the Junior World Championships, she finished second at European Cup giant slalom races in Berchtesgaden, Germany on 9 and 10 February, followed by a 17th place finish at the senior World Championships in Are, Sweden.
“That event in Sweden was a breakthrough for me, I started in 38th and had the fastest second run.”
Last year, then 16-year-old Alice was selected as New Zealand’s youngest ever Winter Olympian, beating her teammate Nico Porteous for that honour.
She was selected for the Winter Olympics in Korea after being ranked 67th in the world. 2018 giant slalom gold medallist Mikaela Shiffrin is the only other athlete in FIS history who has progressed as fast as Alice did in her first year as a FIS athlete. Alice finished 35th of the 58 skiers who completed the women’s giant slalom.
In 2017 Alice won the U16 giant slalom, finished second in slalom in Slovenia, and was also the winner of the US U16 National Championship giant slalom.
Alice says the Olympic Games and subsequent success of Nico Porteous and Zoe Sadowski-Synott in snowboarding has also motivated her.
“It is really cool to have New Zealand doing well in snow sports, because we are pretty small here compared to Europe and North America and it is pretty exciting to have more competing across the board.”
Perhaps what is even more remarkable about Alice’s rise to the top in elite women’s ski racing, is her background. While most of the top Europeans are born into alpine climates, Alice’s early years were far removed from the snow.
“I was born in Sydney and moved to New Zealand when I was four.”
Moving to Queenstown, her family started skiing at nearby Coronet Peak. “I joined the racing programme and started from there.”
On the World Cup circuit, Alice is based in Italy and competes most weekends. Her Italian-based coach Chris Knight is a kiwi but other New Zealanders are few and far between. “There is one other New Zealander competing on the World Cup, but I am based with an international group and we travel together.”
Do her parents watch her race? “Yes, they came over a couple of times this past season and watched me race, they were over for the World Juniors.”
Giant slalom is her main focus. “I also have had some good results from Super G, which has bigger turns, and slalom as well.” The weekend before her season ending second place, she finished second in a Super G World Cup event in Italy.
There’s no skiing in New Zealand for a few months, but Alice admits she is already gazing up at the mountain with regularity “My house is right underneath Coronet Peak so I kind of look at that a lot, and the same while I am school.”
Alice also has a background in other sports, and has played competitive netball in Queenstown/Southland and has played football and also rippa rugby when she was younger. Following her short break, she will soon start going to the gym for a few hours a day most days of the week.
Alice Robinson – a year of firsts:
Bradley Mcdowell (Whanganui High School) has won the third annual Junior Rural Sportsperson of the Year Award.
McDowell first started cowboy shooting at 12 years old, and has been New Zealand junior champion in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017.
He is currently New Zealand North Island overall men's champion, New Zealand overall men's champion, Wyoming State junior champion, 2018 World junior champion, 2018 World’s fastest junior cowboy title, and is currently ranked seventh in the World overall men's Championships.
McDowell achieved his world title at the age of 16 and is youngest New Zealand shooter to do so.
His goal is to become the world's number one shooter and to get more young people introduced to the sport in New Zealand.
The award was presented by Olympic and Commonwealth Games triathlete Tony Dodds.
The other finalists were equestrian Briar Burnett-Grant (Taupō-nui-a-Tia College, 2018) and harness racer Sheree Tomlinson (Darfield High School, 2016).
Burnett-Grant won the 2018 Olympic Cup, the Premier League Series and a World Cup event, and placed in the top three in the 2018-19 FEI World Cup Series.
Tomlinson has made a big impression in a short space of time in harness racing. She dominated the Australasian Young Drivers Championship in Australia. She led from the early stages, takin both Well Fancied and Rough Chance horses to victory to gain maximum points. This followed her history-making win in the 2017 Dominion Handicap – New Zealand’s most famous race for trotting horses.
Caleb Cutmore was back home and out surfing as soon as possible after his Billabong Grom Series win In Piha this past weekend.
Caleb and his friends and schoolmates from the Raglan Surf Academy are out surfing most days of the year. What’s more, they get to surf in school time.
“There are 16 in our class at the surf academy at Raglan Area School, and we mix in with the rest of the school,” Caleb explains.
“But at quarter to two every day we go out surfing instead of sitting in a classroom, Surfing takes up two of our class times. We learn about surfing in the classroom and then we go out and do it!”
Caleb is just starting level 3 NCEA and is doing four subjects and has been at Raglan Area School since the start of last year after previously attending Hamilton Boys’ High School.
On Saturday, the goofy footer won the third and final leg of the Grom Series to win the U18 Boys section and defend the title he won last year.
The third event of the series at Piha was scheduled for two days, but with adverse weather forecast for Sunday it was completed in one big day of surfing.
Caleb finished with a 14.27 point heat total edging out Jack Lee who pushed him for the win posting 14.07 points out of a possible 20.
This followed wins in the first leg at Mount Maunganui and a fourth in the second leg at Whangamata over the past few weeks.
The four-surfer U18 Boys final was an all-Raglan Surf Academy final, as Caleb explained.
“There was Jack Lee and Luis Southwood, both from Whakatane, and Taylor O’Leary from Muriwai in the final. We all go to school together every day. Every Tuesday morning we have a competition amongst ourselves so it was just like another one of those,” said Caleb.
“We are all pretty close. Jack got three seconds in the Grom Series - he didn’t quite win but he got close in all three legs.”
When the wider group aren’t competing against each other they are out there surfing together for fun.
“My favourite break is Manu Bay [in Raglan]. Around the headland from Raglan there is a beach called Ruapuke. It is usually way too big, but when the swell drops off it is a good size and that is a really good wave as well.
Caleb has travelled around New Zealand and overseas on surfing trips. “Last year I went on a trip with a few other guys to Fiji, no competition, just going to get good waves.”
What is the difference between just going out for a surf and surfing competitively?
“Pretty much the main difference is when you are free surfing it doesn’t really matter if you fall off, you are just learning and trying new things. But in a competition you want to land everything and complete all your waves.”
Surfing competitions are marked by judges on the beach.
“The heats throughout the event are 15 minutes, except for the final which is 20 minutes. Each wave you catch is marked out of 10 and your top two waves count. So the idea is to get two or three good waves in there and get the highest score out of 20.”
Caleb lives with his family at Raglan, having recently moved there from Hamilton.
“My everyday break is Manu Bay. Every so often I will go somewhere else, most often Manu Bay.”
Has Caleb been in any dangerous situations?
“I have seen a shark but it wasn’t a dangerous one. There has been the odd scary situation such as when we surfing across the harbour at Raglan and we left it a bit too late and we had to paddle across the harbour in pitch black.
“Last year in Fiji I surfed at a place called Restaurants and it is a sharp reef and it gets super-shallow. Luckily I didn’t come off but I cut myself slightly and it was okay, but one of the guys I was with sliced his back on the reef.”
Has he ever been caught out in big waves? “I have never been properly hurt in big waves but I have been held under for a while. But that is all just part of it.”
Late last year he represented New Zealand at the Junior World Championships at Huntington Beach, California and finished a credible 13th in the individual Boys U18 division. The event attracted 350 Boys and Girls U16 and U18 surfers from 44 countries.
“That was exciting having the whole team backing me and making a few heats alongside people who are much more well-known than I am. in New Zealand everyone is friends and knows each other but over there it is different and more serious.”
This was Caleb’s second Junior World Championships, after finishing 49th as a year 11 surfer in 2017. He hopes to earn selection for this year’s Junior World Champs, details of which haven’t been finalised yet.
He has also competed in Australia and in Brazil at the Rip Curl competition. Back home, he won the 2017 U16 Boys title and then the 2018 U18 Boys title at the [NZSS] Scholastic Surfing Championships.
What is coming up this year? “I will be competing in Australia a couple of times this year as well as doing the Surfing New Zealand Circuit and then hopefully going to the World Juniors again.”
Caleb is open about the future. “I definitely want to take my surfing as far as I can, but I might also look to go to university next year or start getting some qualifications behind me as a back-up plan.”
Like all surfers, Caleb wants to surf around the world, including at the most famous break of them all, Pipeline in Hawaii.
“Pipeline looks amazing if no one was out there. It is quite crowded. I would definitely want to surf it but it is not like I can just rock up and take any wave I want.”
The world’s top 34 surfers compete on the elite men’s World Championship tour. How attainable is that goal?
“It is a big leap up, it is a lot of hard work and plenty of years to qualify for the world tour. There are hundreds of people who are all just as good as each other fighting it out for 30 spots.”
Plus the financial hurdles to overcome to get to travel around the world chasing the best waves and competitions.
Surfing has also been given a boost by being included on the list of proposed new sports for inclusion at the 2024 Paris Olympic Games.
For now, Caleb is happy to spend his days finishing his last year of school and surfing everyday on one of the breaks virtually on his backdoor at Raglan.
The recent 2019 Billabong Grom Series overall champions were:
Under 18 Boys – Caleb Cutmore (Rag)
Under 18 Girls – Gabrielle Paul (Piha)
Under 16 Boys – Jayden Willoughby (Rag)
Under 16 Girls – Ava Henderson (Chch)
Under 14 Boys – Bill Byers (Piha)
Under 14 Girls – Anna Brock (Mnt)
New Zealand ski racer Alice Robinson has been crowned Junior World Champion in Giant Slalom.
The seventeen-year-old from Wakatipu High School in Queenstown went in to Tuesday night’s race at the Alpine World Junior Ski Championships in Val di Fassa, Italy as the world number one U18 racer for ladies’ GS. This is the first time a New Zealander has won a Junior World title in alpine ski racing.
“Winning is incredible,” said Robinson. “I arrived in Val di Fassa with some good results in my last races and a good experience at the World Championships in Are, but I knew that there were some really strong athletes here. I tried to stay focused and to ski to the best of my ability. Being able to win in the first race at the Junior World Championships is really incredible.”
Robinson has had a strong build up to the Junior World Championships with a win and a second-place finish at European Cup Giant Slaloms in Berchtesgaden, Germany on 9 and 10 February, followed by a 17th place finish at the senior World Championships in Are, Sweden last week.
Sitting in second place after run one, 0.9s behind Slovenian Meta Hrovat, Robinson recorded the fastest time on run two to take the win by 1.06s. A fall from Hrovat put her out of the medals, opening the way for Swiss skier Camille Rast to take the silver medal, and Norway’s Kaja Norbye the bronze.
Robinson will be back in the start gate tonight (NZT) for the Junior World Championship Slalom, along with team mate Amelia Gillard. Gillard finished 51st in the GS.
As Junior World Champion, Robinson has also earned the opportunity to compete at the World Cup finals in Andorra on 17 March.
Alice Robinson Q and A on the eve of the Junior World Cup
European You Tube channel Ski Online interviewed Alice on the mountain on the eve of the Junior World Cup this week:
How did you start skiing?
I started skiing in Queenstown back home. The mountain is a 10-minute drive from where I live, so I just started skiing up on the mountain there in the weekends.
Do you have any family that ski?
They ski but they didn’t really grow up skiing, they grew up in hot climates so they didn’t really ski that much. But when we moved to Queenstown everyone got into it.
Are you going to school in New Zealand, or how are you managing online school and ski racing?
I just go school at the local high school in Queenstown and they are really relaxed and help me out and do stuff while I am there. Then when I am not there I just focus on skiing and then when I get back I focus on school and catch-up.
When you travel, what is your team like? Are you coaching with your mum and dad or with your coach?
At the moment I am travelling with another team of girls and when I go to races I travel with them. There is another Kiwi girl who goes to most of the world cups as well.
What is your target in ski racing?
Probably to be top three in the World Cup.
What do you need to get there?
Just to work hard and keep pushing.
Have you had any injuries?
I have been safe on injuries so far – touch wood. I haven’t had any big problems like that so hopefully it continues!
Do you feel homesick, when you are so far away from home for most of the year?
Not really. I love home, but it is good to get out of New Zealand for a bit. And this year I am not really home for that long, about three months so it is not too bad.
Do you ski all-year round? Because when you are here you miss summer-time in New Zealand and then you go home and it is winter again?
My season this year in Europe, in the Northern Hemisphere, is only three months. Then I will probably only ski three months. And winters in New Zealand are not really like winters in Europe. It is not as cold and there is no snow in the towns, it is just on the mountains, so it is not too bad!
Thank you, I wish you all the best for the juniors.
Watch the full interview here:
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