We caught up with some Chilled Chillers about where they're currently chilling and how they plan to chill this chilly winter. Meet Mel Parsons, Nick Pascoe, Rod Thomson and Craig Murray.
I’ve been skiing for as long as I can remember. My first pair of skis were about a foot long, and strapped straight on to my gumboots. I grew up at Cape Foulwind on the West Coast, just out of Westport. Dad skied at Mt Olympus as a teenager and has skied there ever since. As kids, he would cart us all over the hill every winter for family ski weeks.
I have so many great memories of growing up and learning to ski at Olympus; the concerts, exotic ski instructors from faraway lands, the water fights, rolled bacon and giant vats of Thriftee, but most of all the friends I made and still have to this day. In recent years I spent a couple of seasons at Olympus teaching skiing, which was a blast! It’s a very special place, and super cool to see more generations coming through and loving it too.
These days I ski most of the Canterbury club fields. Olympus will always be my home mountain, but I also end up at BR & Craigieburn quite a bit, depending on the weather. Having Porters on the Chill Pass is great too - it means we can zip up for an hour or two whenever it suits. I try to organise my work over winter so that I can be in the mountains as much as possible. This year I’ll be touring North America from mid August – selfishly, I’m hoping for a really early, cold start to the season, with some big dumps to get my fix before I go!
Studying Engineering, University of Canterbury
Alexandra, Central Otago
I used to ski race until I blew my shoulder out at the end of high school. I was training with the Queenstown Alpine Ski Team, going pretty quick on injected slopes, when I slid right onto the point of my shoulder - it blew apart the tendon in my rotator cuff. I skied for the rest of the season but decided to get it fixed. It’s a 12-month recovery time, so I went to uni - I had to do something with my life.
I had done a bit of skiing at the club fields already. My parents and a heap of boys I met at uni were really into it; like Ollie Hunt, the Murray boys and James Hampton. At first I didn’t know that much about backcountry and avi danger and stuff like that, but everyone’s always been pretty good at taking me on.
Whenever the snow’s good we check the uni timetable - if it’s something we don’t have to be at, it’s not too bad to miss class.
Olympus is probably the favourite. It’s fairly close, it’s got a super cool vibe and some gnarly freeride terrain. Temple Basin is also epic. We head up there to film quite a bit - it’s crazy terrain when the snow’s good. I used to do all the Chill comps and I’ve done the NZ Open a few times… I’m definitely thinking of doing it again this year and hopefully there are a few other comps around.
Senior Chill Pass holder
I started off skiing at club fields as a Lincoln student in the late 60's and early 70's - pretty much strictly at Craigieburn. What amazes me is how terrible the old gear was! We’re talking leather boots, cable bindings and funny old, long wooden skis with edges screwed in, about 5mm wide. People got hurt because the bindings were primitive and wouldn’t release. I’ve still got a few buddies from those days - we talk about it and just shake our heads.
I did a little skiing when the kids were small, in the 80's. We took the family to Porters and as the kids got a bit bigger we did a bit more skiing. After a big gap, in the 90’s I became a member at Craigieburn again. I usually do a week at Craigieburn, then a day at as many of the other fields as I can, and try to get a day or two boarding at Craigieburn as well. I can claim to be a pensioner snowboarder - I took snowboarding up when I was 50 - my good mate’s son was a snowboarder - he talked me into having a crack.
When the snow is good, it’s very good, and there are so few people. And there’s the club atmosphere; the camaraderie and that… You always meet a few old timers that you haven’t seen in years.
Freeride Junior Tour winner 2016
I was first introduced to the clubbies when I was about 5 or 6 years old. My earliest memories are of ripping around Temple and Olympus, chasing Patrick O'Reagan, James Hampton and older brother Charlie. We were always in a pack, pushing each other and having the most fun possible - not worrying about anything else.
The club fields have been a huge part of my skiing from the beginning – giving me an amazing foundation I’ve been able to tweak and work on. Mt Olympus is my favourite without a doubt. It's my home field, with a bach right at the bottom at Lake Coleridge. Temple Basin is another one of my favourites - the terrain’s incredible. A trip to Temple is always a highlight of my season, even if we don't score the goods. The feeling you get up there is really special - you’re in the heart of the Southern Alps, and what you can access from such short hikes is mind blowing!
My plans for this season are to ski quite a bit in the Canterbury region, filming and photographing. Now that I've finished high school I don’t have to be based out of Wanaka; I’ll be competing in the Freeride World Qualifier events, probably cruising around Olympus a lot, with trips to Temple Basin and some touring. Of course some time down south too… Basically, as much skiing as possible!