The Slopes Beckon Talented Siblings

Published July 01, 2015

Local Oakura teenagers Georgia and Felix Ferris are taking their snowboarding passion to dizzying heights with single figure national rankings and experience at the most prestigious of snowboarding Mecca’s – Breckenridge, Colorado.

The snowboarding dream began four years ago with the duo’s first attempts at the sport and two years ago they both began competing.

Georgia 18 years and Felix 14 years spent the 2013 winter in Whistler honing their skills, gaining experience and racking up the miles on the slopes before returning to New Zealand to spend the winter.

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In 2014 the family including mum Emmalie and dad Pierre headed to Breckenridge, Colorado to attend a snowboard academy and to compete in the Rocky Mountain competition Series in two disciplines – the half pipe and slope style.

Participating in this series gains points and these go towards a National ranking. Georgia finished in the top 30 and was the series winner for slope style and Felix finished in the top 70 and was placed 3rd in the series slope style and 4th in the half pipe.

Snowboarding competitions include “Revolution Tours” which are stepping stones from grassroots snowboarding to elite snowboarding and points gained at these events go towards Nationals as well.

At the US Nationals Georgia finished 5th in slope style, 11th in the half pipe and 5th in rail jam. Felix unfortunately took a fall at Nationals so did not finish.

Georgia finished the US season ranked 6th nationally our of approximately 70 and Felix finished 22nd out of 260 riders in his overall US national ranking.

USASA invite the top 30 women and the top 70 boys to attend Nationals each year.

Some of the points gained get carried forward to the following year and this ranking helps with a world ranking, gaining recognition in the sport and being noticed by Snow Sport New Zealand to gain a place in the New Zealand squad.

Last year Georgia won the North Island Secondary School Snowboard Championship at Turoa, snowboarding for her correspondence school Te Aho o Te Kura Pounamu.

The winter season is very limited in New Zealand hence the family having to travel to the USA to gain the necessary skills and experience and this is especially true of living in the North Island but Georgia says the experience gained by snowboarding on Mt Ruapehu has put them in good stead when competing with others – Mt Ruapehu is rugged and you have to be tough!

The duo are heading to Wanaka shortly to begin their 2015 build up with a High Performance Coach and preparation for the New Zealand Nationals.

Both Felix and Georgia are applying for selection on the Revolution Tour through Snow Sport NZ and have goals to get to the Junior World Championship in Norway in 2016.

Felix is currently in year 10 at NPBHS but will be returning to correspondence studies when the family head to Wanaka for the winter.

Following on from this the family will be heading to USA for five months for the American winter season.

It will then be full on training to catch up to northern hemisphere standards and assimilate back into the intense competitive environment.

The siblings have a great relationship and value the fact they have each other as travelling buddies and can feed off each other to improve their skills.

Their videoing skills are pretty good too!

Both Georgia and Felix love the thrill of nailing a new trick and practising it over and over until its perfect.

They say the scariest discipline is slope style which is down a course with a variety of obstacles including rails, jumps and other terrain park features.

Points are scored for amplitude, originality and quality of tricks and is now an olympic sport.

Georgia is starting a Bachelor of Science and Chemistry at Auckland University via correspondence with the hope of moving into medicine when she has more time to commit to study.

It goes without saying that the commitment, determination, raw talent, financial means, parental support and sacrifice is immense and as I talked with these two extraordinary siblings, I couldn’t help but wonder which ingredient was the most important.

I’ve watched their videos and the talent is evident, the parental support is unquestioning and selfless, the sacrifices made to make dreams come true is humbling.

Most of all the sheer joy Georgia and Felix and their parents get out of snowboarding is inspiring – they are self confessed adrenaline junkies though mum Emmalie says she is the ‘fair weather’ snowboarder in the family but they have always tried to give their children new and exciting adventures. They all remain philosophical about reaching the pinnacle of the snowboarding world – all it takes is one bad fall and a bad break to a major body part and your career is over – but in the meantime they are giving it everything!

I for one will be excited to watch them progress to the top and should they not make it then I’ll know they gave it a damn good try!

 
 
 
 
TOM