It's not easy being a gold medal winning snowboarder when you live in the winterless north.
It's even harder when you started snowboarding just six years ago, never had any lessons and only visited the mountain about three times a year.
But that's exactly what Whangārei Girls' High School Year 11 student Milly Blue Kirby did last week when she claimed slopestyle gold at the North Island secondary school snowboarding competition on Tuesday at Mt Ruapehu.
A relative snowboarding novice in comparison to some of her opposition, Kirby took out the top spot through flawless execution in the slopestyle event, which saw competitors go over three jumps and a rail in their chance to impress the judges.
The 15-year-old landed her two method grabs and a tail grab perfectly in what was her first official snowboarding competition.
Despite her success, Kirby didn't expect the medal as she completed her run.
"After I finished, I definitely wasn't disappointed with how I did," Kirby said.
"I think I performed well and I was stoked for myself, but I think the reason I won was because I landed them all clean."
Kirby, more commonly known as Milly Blue on account of her middle name, said she was mostly surprised because she felt she was more capable in the two other competition disciplines, boardercross and slalom.
However, Kirby's 13th place finish in the slalom and a cancelled boardercross run paled in comparison to the Northlander's slopestyle gold. Her performance last week was even more impressive while considering Kirby's relative inexperience in the sport.
After starting snowboarding at age 9, it took about three years for Kirby to become truly confident on a board without the aid of lessons. While it was her father who first introduced her to the sport, Kirby put her success down to snowboarding alongside boys her own age.
"[My dad's] way of teaching me was just chucking me on the slopes and I'd just fall over and learn eventually," she said.
"But when I board with [boys], they obviously push me to do things so I think they are probably part of the reason why I've gotten better because I've tried more."
Last week was Kirby's first time competing at that level after last year's North Island competition was cancelled due to poor weather.
Over the last year, Kirby had trained about five times at Auckland's Snowplanet alongside about 10 other Whangārei Girls' High School students in addition to her time on Mt Ruapehu's Turoa skifield.
Despite her recent success, Kirby was still uncertain about her future in the sport. While she was enthusiastic to continue snowboarding, she didn't expect to see many more medals around her neck.
"Snowboarding, until maybe the last two years, has always just been a hobby, I've never seen it as a sport as such, [when] I get down to the mountain, I don't have any plans and I just do whatever," she said.
"I never think, 'today I'm going to do jumps and tomorrow I'm going to work on this', it's always just been a fun thing for me.
"I'll definitely do it throughout my life and do a competition here and there, but I'm not thinking I'm going to Winter Olympics any time soon, if I could I definitely would."
Kirby hoped to become an instructor once she left high school, possibly in Japan where she had gone for the past two summers for a couple of weeks of snowboarding.