BY CHAS GULDEMOND
In the middle of August, I drove to LA and hopped on a flight. I was headed to New Zealand. I have not been to the southern hemi since 2009. The reason for this is in the past I was skunked by bad weather and had some bad memories from there. In 2008, I had the scariest injury of my career. I was in halfpipe finals at the New Zealand Open and I hit my head and laid there unconscious for five and a half minutes. Definitely something that that made me want to not come back. This year I took a different attitude into the trip; I just really wanted to stay positive and enjoy this beautiful country.
When I arrived, it was awesome weather and I was stoked to reunite with the team. Sage, Eric and Bill were all there at the airport waiting, so when I got there we made our way over to Wanaka where our house was. The roads here are crazy winding and twisting up the mountain only to do the same on the way down. Glad I don't get car sick, and with Bill driving it is definitely interesting. Over here the driver sits on the right side and you drive in the left lane. It takes a bit to get used to. I am so pumped on the sights here though! The mountains seem like they rise forever and the lakes are super blue. Like my mom would say "this place is goooorgeous!"
Over the next couple of days, we had practice up at the Cardrona Resort. The only bummer is when we got up there each day the course was completely socked in by clouds and the visibility was very poor. Even so, it was good to get the feet back under me and shred some mini shred with the boys. Not much training was done, but it was still fun. The funny thing is when we got halfway down the mountain on the way home, the sky opened up in town and it was T-shirt weather — epic for after shredding activities. I can’t tell you how many games of skate we played in the driveway or how many rounds of golf we played. Thank god for good weather in town, otherwise I would have been pretty bummed on mediocre shredding and sitting at the house all day.
On the day qualifiers went down, once again we were socked in up at the mountain. We waited for like four hours to take our runs for heat one and two. I put down my first run and was stoked to get my confidence in competing back. They still had heat three and four to go, but they ran out of time that day and were going to run it the following day. Never fails… the next day was crappy too, so they ended up canceling men’s slopestyle altogether. I put my runs down and Eric qualified first and neither of us got points. Bummer.
New Zealand trip was still epic, even though the event was cancelled and the riding was poor. I think it was my attitude going into the trip that helped me from getting down in the dumps. I got to hang with all my friends and saw a lot of things around the area, including a trip to the coast. Leaving here I learned that staying positive and making the most out of every situation is the only way to roll. What could have been a bad trip turned into a really fun one and I feel blessed to have come. Now I am off to Australia for some more shredding and hopefully some better weather.