Eighteen consecutive winters have paid off for Hawke's Bay brothers Aidan and Luke Wilkins.
That level of commitment saw the pair selected in the New Zealand Snowsports Ski Youth team which has spent the last three months in Europe.
The brothers have competed in three FIS International Youth Series races within Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia and recorded top 15 finishes in all races completed.
Thirteen-year-old Luke's best finish was a win in the under-14 slalom in Bosnia where 15-year-old Aidan also had his best finish, a third in the under-16 slalom. The Kiwi team finished third in Bosnia. Top skiers from between 15 and 25 countries were represented at the three events.
The boys' father Tim Wilkins managed the New Zealand team. He said all three of the events were sponsored by the country of location and the sponsorship covered accommodation, meals and organisation.
"There were opening ceremonies and parades through the streets and in Slovenia they built a temporary small ski slope under a castle leading down to the village for a night slalom team event which attracted thousands of spectators," Wilkins said.
This event has been running for 45 years and New Zealand's 2019 junior world title winner Alice Robinson won it in 2017. On one of the days the New Zealand team was racing in Slovenia Robinson won a World Cup giant slalom event on another mountain 90 minutes away in Slovenia.
Hawke's Bay's Piera Hudson also completed at this race from start bib 45 but had a minor out (DNF). She has the fighting hard to make the top 30 or "the flip" as it is labelled in order to race the second run but has yet to achieve it this season according to Wilkins.
The New Zealand Youth team finished fifth at their televised Croatia event which was staged in Zagreb on a slope with man made salted snow. This slope hosted a World Cup slalom event earlier in the season.
The last event in Bosnia was held on the same slopes as the 1986 Winter Olympics on a mountain above the city of Sarajevo.
"It was magnificent to drive through central Europe with the New Zealand Youth team and go through some of the countries which are the powerhouses of ski racing in the world. The highlight definitely was the third placing in Bosnia," Wilkins said.
All three events were part of the "Children for Peace" series.
Lindisfarne College Year 9 student Luke Wilkins is training in Austria before he is due to travel to the United States and Vancouver next month. Lindisfarne College Year 11 student Aidan returned to the Bay last week and will re-join the Kiwi team and Robinson's former coach Tim Cafe in the United States next month before heading to Vancouver.