Waitetuna School boy Ronan Thompson dreams of becoming a “real good” snowboarder — and he’s well on the way after winning third place recently in the boys’ under 16 event in the Nitro Elan Jib Nationals at Turoa skifields.
Now he’s set his sights set on the Cardrona Grom Prix in October where the country’s best young skiers and riders battle it out at the alpine resort for the prestigious Junior Nationals title, the final in a series of comps run by Snow Sports NZ.
The 12-year-old — now into his second season of competitive snowboarding after placing third in last year’s boarder-X event — was up against 15 or so mostly older rivals in the jib competition, which involved two hours of tricks on rails, boxes and up a wall.
“It’s a bit like skateboarding but in the snow,” explains Ronan’s mother Lindsey Turner who takes turns with partner Andrew Thompson in driving Ronan down to the skifields where he trains every weekend with Mt Ruapehu Snow Sports Freestyle Team.
Lindsey’s a “big skier” but Andrew’s had to learn to snowboard to keep up with his son‘s progress on the slopes.
While Lindsey’s “stoked” to see Ronan having fun and aspiring to the bigtime Winter Olympics someday, she concedes it’s an expensive sport and he could well do with a local sponsor.
As it is he’s had to save up and buy himself a decent snowboard, she says, from pocket money and winnings as the axe-wielding Once-ler chasing the Truffula Tree across-stage at Raglan’s Art to Wear show back in June.
Ronan’s lucky to have been able to compete this year, adds Lindsey, given he’s sporting a plaster cast to protect a cracked wristbone from a fall at the start of the season.
Postponement of the jib nationals by a fortnight played in his favour. Now it’s the slopestyle and boarder-X events to look forward to before the South Island’s Cardrona nationals, described as the pinnacle age event and covering all the disciplines.