Hawke's Bay alpine skier Piera Hudson is beginning to dance to the beat of her own drum now and she's loving the rhythm and sensation.

"We're just going to do what we think is best for my skiing and so far that has worked," says Hudson from Wanaka, where she won the New Zealand giant slalom and slalom crowns during the nationals staged in South Island a fortnight ago.

The 22-year-old has claimed the ANC Continental Cup giant slalom yellow bib after registering a personal-best 11.59 points and a PB of 12.55 points in slalom over eight races at the Cardrona (Wanaka), Coronet Peak (Queenstown) and Mt Hotham (Victoria, Australia) skifields since basing herself there in June.

Hudson, who captured the imagination of the skiing world as a youngster growing up in Tikokino where parents Fiona and John used to be livestock farmers, found cold comfort in her bid to make the New Zealand team to the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in South Korea in February this year.


It was a cut deeper than the first one of missing the cull to the Sochi Winter Olympics in Russia in February 2014.

"In February, the Winter Olympics happened but it didn't happen for me," says the Sport Hawke's Bay People's Choice Award winner in May.

"Since then I can honestly say not going to the Pyeongchang Olympics was the best thing that could have happened to me because it gave me that chance to take a step back and re-evaluate everything."

Hudson and her Kiwi coach, Jonny Rice, went back to the drawing board to revisit the blueprint as she aspires to become the first winter Olympian from the Bay in the quest to make the 24th Winter Olympics in Beijing, China, in 2022.

"We're no longer going to do exactly what Snow Sports New Zealand want us to do. We're going to follow our own schedule and do the races we want to do.

"So far that has worked brilliantly and it just keeps on getting better and better and I'm getting faster."

Snow Sports NZ and the New Zealand Olympic Committee (NZOC) had changed the alpine selection process in 2013 and the Hudsons were left lamenting "tough prerequisites".

In coming to terms with her non-selection in January, Hudson had informed fans on social media: "I did everything I could and gave it my best shot but sometimes that's not quite enough. Despite making criteria and being the best ranked sl [slalom] skier in New Zealand, my governing body decided not to nominate me to the Olympic committee for my individual events."


However, she had wished the Kiwi contingent to Pyeongchang all the best and bore no grudges against the NZOC because Snowsports NZ simply hadn't "given me a chance".

A rash of personal best times since has been an endorsement of that shift in paradigm after she started training off season in March and April.

"This season we just blew them [PBs] out of the water so I'm really in a great head space and I'm really happy with my skiing right now and where everything is at," she says.

The former Woodford House pupil, who has spent a good part of her life trying to tame the powdery slopes of Europe and America to buttress her resume and woo the selectors, is hoping to gravitate towards the top 100 mark when the official list is published in a fortnight.

"The dream is to be world No 1 but ... it's step by step," she says with a laugh.

Hudson is No 109 in giant slalom and No 137 in slalom in the world rankings.

The two-time Central Hawke's Bay Sportsperson of the Year doesn't fancy herself as a "tech specialist" any more, consciously drifting from the demands of the speed disciplines because of the need for multiple coaches and technicians.

Piera Hudson with coach Jonny Rice after a productive season at the nationals in Central Otago last month. Photo/supplied
Piera Hudson with coach Jonny Rice after a productive season at the nationals in Central Otago last month. Photo/supplied

"You basically need a lot of people on the hill. Because we don't get any funding, I pay for my coach privately," he says of Rice, who is based in Wanaka and has mentored her for eight years.

Hudson sees that shift in focus as a wise decision that will leave her the opportunity to pick her speed up again if she still harbours that desire.

She still believes she has two more Winter Olympics in her.

"I'm still young in the sport but the next big goal is to break into the World Cup circuit this season by climbing into the top 30."

The World Cup will be staged in Are, Sweden, in February next year.

She still has a month's block of training with Rice in Cardrona before jetting off to North America in early November.

A base in Europe will beckon after that, perhaps in Austria, until April to make the most of the powdery slopes of the northern hemisphere winter.

More immediately, she is channelling her energy into the last two giant slalom races of the series at Cardrona on Friday in the hope of winning one, if not both, to boost her FIS points to whittle down her world rankings.

Her accomplishments in the South Island and Australia, especially the yellow bib, will put her in good stead in Europe but also there's that fiscal fillip, albeit a small one, which will come in handy during her campaign.

"For instance, you get free accommodation at the world cup so every little bit that you get counts and helps in the long run."

Hudson says from a competitive aspect the yellow bib is a timely endorsement for consistency in her performance.

Having competed in 13 races here, she's registered a "did not finish" only twice.

"Things happen when you're laying it on the line so sometimes you risk too much but it does show that I can be consistent and fast in finishing and you have to be that to win," she explains.

Hudson expects it to be a great season where making the cut for the world cup circuit will be her first stepping stone.

She is studying online and also working in the same mode for a Swedish company to "get a little bit of money on the side".

Hudson welcomes any financial help on: coastalcowhides.co.nz

Maryna Gasienica-Daniel (left), of Poland, Katharina Truppe, of Austria, Lena Duerr, of Germany, and Piera Hudson, of Hawke's Bay, on the podium. Photo/Winter Games NZ
Maryna Gasienica-Daniel (left), of Poland, Katharina Truppe, of Austria, Lena Duerr, of Germany, and Piera Hudson, of Hawke's Bay, on the podium. Photo/Winter Games NZ