It can be a daunting task facing a 22ft Olympic-size half pipe for the first time. Especially if you’re only 12-years-old. That’s exactly what Waitetuna grom Ronan Thompson did though, scoring himself a bronze medal at the Cardrona Grom Prix national ski and snowboard champs earlier this month.

“He was so happy to get a medal in the pipe – especially as he had never actually been in one before! It was huge, 22ft I think. Olympic size. But he loved it and said it was a lot like skateboarding,” said mum Lindsey Turner.

One of the youngest in his age group and a newbie to the event, Ronan was up against some tough competition throughout the four-day event, competing against the likes of Sam Christie, current NZ youth snowboarding team member.

Hitting the half-pipe event on his first day, Lindsey says he had a pretty major bail that shook him up a bit.
“I didn’t see it at the time luckily because when I saw the video footage I was freaked out,” said Lindsey.

Taking the knock in his stride, he came back with a medal in the pipe, as well as a fifth and sixth placing in the Boarder X and Grand Slalom events respectively.
Ronan wasn’t the only medal getter on the day though with younger sister Madeleine scoring a bronze over in the Skier X event.

The Chronicle first reported on Ronan’s achievements back in August when he earned a third placing at the Nitro Elan Jib Nationals at Turoa ski fields. Since then Ronan’s been competing at the North Island Junior and Intermediate Ski and Snowboarding Championships representing his school Waitetuna.

Missing out on a medal by just one point in the racing at Turoa, Ronan was the youngest to make the final in the U16 Boarder X event held the next day. Finishing third, he proved that even at 12 he could rub shoulders with the older heavier riders saying it was “all good experience for junior nationals coming up in October.”

Now with the snow season drawing to a close for the year, Ronan will be looking at training for the competition circuit again next season and this time could even have his sights set on gold.

Maki Nishiyama