While most Tauranga students are looking forward to the summer ahead Lily Balsom is dreaming of snow in her quest to make her mark on the New Zealand freeride stage.

Freeride - also known as big mountain skiing - is a style of skiing performed on natural, ungroomed terrain.

The 12-year-old ACG Tauranga student has spent more of her life in snow than sunshine.

At just two-years-old, the Mount Maunganui local was navigating the challenging ski lift at Wanaka's Treble Cone ski field and now her goal is to earn an entry to the Freeride Junior World Champs for 14 to 17-year-olds.

It is scary sometimes and I am more cautious than the boys I ski with but it is such a great feeling when I get over my nerves.


"The more experience I can get through New Zealand competitions and events will help build my profile, and hopefully gain a New Zealand wildcard entry to the world championships, when I am old enough," Lily said.

This is Lily's first year seriously competing in freeride competitions and has travelled around the country for all three stops of the GoPro New Zealand Junior Freeride Tour at The Remarkables in Queenstown, Mt Olympus in Christchurch and Mt Ruapehu, Central Plateau.

In the 11 to 14-year-old category, Lily is up against some older, more experienced competition, but she finished third overall on the tour.

Lily spends most weekends at Turoa and every second weekend she skis with a group of like-minded kids and a coach, working on their freeride skills.

She is putting in the hours to work on her "drop offs". As the name implies, it involves confidently and technically skiing off drops and on to the snow below, before continuing to ski down the mountain to the finish line.

"I like getting air," Lily said.

"It is scary sometimes and I am more cautious than the boys I ski with but it is such a great feeling when I get over my nerves."

Adventure sports such as freeriding do come with inherent risks, as Lily found out when she broke both her wrists in 2013 at Turoa ski field.

While it does mean days off school to chase her sporting dream, Lily is working hard to ensure she's keeping on top of her workload.

"Lily has only been at ACG Tauranga this year, but they have been really supportive and encouraging of her pursuit," said mum Jan.

"There's a lot required of Lily to ensure she maintains all aspects of her life, but she's really dedicated to making her sport and her schooling work."

Lily says she just love this sport, "from the feeling of being on the snow, to the skiers you meet".

"I've had some incredible experiences and shared those with some great people."