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More than a week in, the skiers and riders at the Red Bull Snow Performance Camp 2012 have settled into a routine. Pre-7am wake up, breakfast, then up the hill to get on the snow and into the air. Afternoons are given over to gym work, physio and mapping goals for tomorrow. Most afternoons, that is. Some days, everyone gets to chuck knives around instead.
For 20-year-old half pipe skier Noah Bowman, new to the Red Bull crew, life on the Performance Camp has been a game-changing chance to eke out a competitive edge. “It’s been pretty amazing so far, everything they’ve set up for us is awesome, like the fact that we’ve got the pipe to ourselves in the morning. I haven’t really had an opportunity like this before and I think it’s definitely going to make a difference.”
Life can’t be all work and no play, though, and a recent afternoon of off-snow action had Bowman buzzing. “That was one of the best days of my life!” he said, after a post-lunch session with his fellow athletes at local luxury playground Ferguson Lodge. If it’s loud, dirty or sharp, Oxbow Adventures runs it at Ferguson’s, and the team got stuck in deep: dune buggies, helicopters, jet boats, archery, target shooting (yes, with shotguns), hitting golf balls across the South Island’s largest river and a bit of old-school knife throwing.
For the record, PK Hunder took out the golf challenge and Louie Vito nailed a double a different kind, sticking two knives into the target at once. “I guess I’ve got some Ninja in me. I just find out something new about myself every day.”
This being New Zealand, it was a sure bet there would be a bungy in the mix as well, and a mid-camp down-under down day saw the team head to Queenstown for a shot at the 134-metre Nevis Bungy. It was a first for Hungarian rider Anna Gyarmati, but then again how hard can it be hurling yourself off a bridge when your day job is chucking backflips of 80-foot kickers? No sweat at all. “I couldn’t miss it, I had to do it! It wasn’t nearly as scary as I thought.” Nick Geopper agreed. “It was the thrill of a lifetime. It’s so gnarly--so far down, it’s crazy. You’re free falling for four or five seconds.”
Camp life—on snow, off snow, on target, off a bridge, it’s all on.