Big Mountain Freeride World Tour skier Nat Segal calls Treble Cone, New Zealand her winter home. Here she writes for snowsbest.
I first started skiing when I was two years old at Mt Buller. Mum taught us how to power down Bourke St (she used the harness and leash method) and then she shipped us off to ski school one we got the hang of it.
It’s hard to remember exactly how I felt about it but past memories of pink edgie wedgies, ski school races and making sure that all my thermals were tucked in properly to my full-piece suit, always make me happy.
I was 21 when I first ventured over to New Zealand. I had just come back from my first winter abroad, I was coaching at Mt Buller for Team Buller Riders and I was on a mission to compete in my first big mountain competition.
I followed two friends (James Toth and Watkin McLennan) over to Wanaka to compete in the NZ Freeski Open. I remember being blown away by the place, the mountains, the ski community and the general vibe of Wanaka.
It was so different to any other ski town that I had previously visited. It’s a small, picturesque town that somehow manages to find a balance between being a ski town, and a home to a lively, eclectic community.
The competition didn’t go so well for me, I double ejected on the landing of my first cliff, but that didn’t stop me from making a pact to return. This will be my third winter in Wanaka.
It’s difficult to pinpoint the exact reason why I keep on coming back to New Zealand. Primarily, it was to compete in the Freeride World Qualifier events hosted around the kiwi alps but after my first season, I found different reasons.
New Zealand, and Treble Cone specifically, is the perfect training grounds for anyone looking to improve upon their riding. The mountains are unique; a mixture of fun, challenging and creative terrain.
Ever since my first winter, I have been of the opinion that the local terrain makes you a stronger, and more dynamic skier. It’s hard not to catch the infectious, die-hard attitude of the local Wanaka shredders.
But it wasn’t just skiing that brought me back. The Otago and Queenstown regions have magnetism to them, which is hard to escape. The landscape in this part of the world is next to none, in the words of one of the TC instructors, we’re a lucky bunch who get to live and work in such a breath-taking and sometimes surreal place.
So why New Zealand, not Australia?
I don’t like to compare oranges and apples, especially when I’m big fan of both of them. However, the main difference from my point of view is the terrain.
New Zealand’s mountains are rugged, beautiful and offer a challenging and playful arena for anyone who loves to shred. Heading to NZ to ski also includes something that I have found less around my local resorts in Australia- an adventure.
Every part of skiing in the Southern Alps becomes an adventure, from driving up the TC dirt road, to making your way up to the Saddle chair to explore the endless valleys of inbound off-piste terrain.
What made you decide to collaborate with TC?
I don’t think there was a moment when I made a decision to collaborate with Treble Cone, it was more of a natural progression. During my first season in 2011, I found that it was the perfect place for me to train, get strong and have fun during the southern hemisphere winter.
After two awesome seasons, it was only logical to collaborate with Treble Cone- I wanted to keep on riding there and make the mountains my home during the winter.
Describe your ideal TC day
My ideal day in Wanaka would start early. I would be up at the crack of dawn, making coffee and buzzing around the house packing my ski bag because it’s a pow day.
A friend would come by with a car full of people ready to shred and we would head straight out of town up to the mountain, watching the rising sun shine pink and then yellow through the parting clouds as we zoom up the switch backs.
From there I would get onto the first chair and happily shred pow with friends down the front valley of TC until the Saddle and the TC summit opened. I would have first tracks all day of course.
After a rad morning skiing inbound pow, I would either ski off the backside of TC with my ski touring kit in my backpack or call my private heli charter and spend the rest of the afternoon exploring the Southern Alps on my skis.
From there, the heli would fly me home and I would make a quick wardrobe change and ride my bike around to the lake front- just in time to catch the sunset while drinking a beer at Kai Whakapai. I’d probably finish the day with a pizza from Francesca’s and a few cocktails or red wine around town.
What is your role with TC?
My main role at TC is skiing, which suits me fine. On top of that, this year I am working with the media and marketing teams as an ambassador to create some sweet content and promote the resort to other riders who we think will get out a kick out of everything the resort has to offer.
Keep your eyes on the TC Blog as myself and other members of the team will be writing about all our winter shenanigans.
What is your favourite ‘in bound’ run at TC and why?
Triple Treat or Easy Rider has to be my favourite groomer on the mountain. It’s straight of the Home Basin Express and is covered in side hits and ungroomed shortcuts. It’s the best way to warm up in the mornings or hot lap in the afternoon.
What is your favourite expert run at TC and why?
The runs down Matukituki Basin and off the TC Summit are my favourite. On Matukituki you can always find little powder stashes down the side of the ridge and it has one of my favourite views that looks over towards the headwaters and Black Peak.
On a sunny day, there is nothing like hiking up to the summit, checking out the view off the backside and cutting a top to bottom run from the summit rocks down to the bottom of the Triple Treat.
The Motatapu Chutes should also get a mention- but that is a whole other story…