Snow sports: Students heading off to Wanaka

By Peter Thornton

Mitchey Greig during the Winter Games NZ at Cardrona Alpine Resort in 2009. Photo / Getty Images
Mitchey Greig during the Winter Games NZ at Cardrona Alpine Resort in 2009. Photo / Getty Images

They met in Vancouver at the Olympics and a few weeks later Mitchey Greig and Sarah Murphy were surprised to be classmates at Queenstown Resort College.

The Olympians have become "great mates" and their experience makes QRC the overwhelming favourite in their debut at the Uni Snow Games this week in Wanaka.

"It was classic," explained Greig of their reunion on the first day of their Adventure Tourism Management Diploma.

"We didn't ask each other what we were up to after the Olympics so it was like 'what are you doing here?'

"Sarah competes in an endurance sport [biathlon] and mine is power [Skier X] but we train all the time together and being teammates again at the Uni Snow Games is going to be a lot of fun."

More than 150 students from 11 tertiary institutions arrive in Wanaka to compete from tomorrow until Friday, all striving to claim the Michael Forrestal Memorial Trophy.

"With the junior world champs and the Burton NZ Open on, Wanaka is buzzing at the moment," said Dene Lynch, University Sport's national event manager.

"It is great for the Uni Games to feed off that and its fantastic that Sarah and Mitchey are keen to compete because it raises the quality of the competition significantly."

Fiona Boyer, who works at QRC as training and development manager, represented New Zealand in slalom and giant slalom in the World Uni Games in the Czech Republic in 1987.

"There is a lot of camaraderie in the Uni Games and that makes it a unique event," said Boyer.

"It is one of my career highlights and my advice for our team is to make sure they enjoy the occasion."

The six-strong team from QRC also includes Rhys Cochrane, Mark Jury, Charmaine Fitton and Giles Cooper.

"It is really exciting for our college to be part of the Uni Snow Games," said Sarah Cairns, the marketing and recruitment manager at QRC.

"It is a great competition and it has given great motivation for all of our students all who have come here to further their ability on the mountain and earn a formal qualification."

Cairns explained that QRC has around 250 enrolled students and will grow to a total student population of between 350-400 in 2011.

"It is fantastic to be attracting world class athletes such as Sarah and Mitchey and be able to offer them the flexibility to study and gain a formal qualification but also allow them to pursue their Olympic dreams."

Greig and Murphy know they are pioneers for their sports.

Greig is ranked 24th in the world and competes "in a different country every week" on the World Cup circuit. Murphy is the country's first Olympic biathlete - a discipline that combines shooting and cross country skiing.

"It was an amazing honour to be the first biathlete from New Zealand at the Olympics and I am really proud of that," said the 21-year-old.

"I learned that I need to be a beast in the trails and push ahead no matter what."

Murphy was exactly that at the Merino Muster last week, winning the women's 21km cross country skiing in 1:06:40.

She will strive for Snow Games gold in cross country but has also entered boarder gravity cross "to have some fun".

"The goal for the cross country is to finish on the podium and the goal for the snowboarding is go down without hurting myself - I hope I don't break my neck."

Greig, 21, said she was "stoked to be back on a course ... there's usually none in New Zealand. We need to build Skier X up here. There's a few people interested but there's not really the facilities."

Uni Snow Games
* More than 150 students from 11 tertiary institutions compete in Wanaka from tomorrow until Friday.

* Queenstown Resort College make their debut and are considered favourites, with Olympians Mitchey Greig and Sarah Murphy in their ranks.

* Greig is ranked 24th in the world for Ski X and competes on the World Cup circuit.

* Murphy is the country's first Olympic biathlete, a discipline that combines shooting and cross country skiing.

- NZ Herald

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