Flying to New Zealand was actually a pleasant trip. I got on plane at 7:30 in Vancouver, got to sleep a bit on the way to Honolulu and then spent some time in the open air airport there before getting on my next plane at 2:30 am ready to sleep. I didn’t even have to buy a blanket or food. There were about 6 of the team on the flight and more in Auckland when we arrived. Wendy and I caught I ride out to Rotorua with Rob Jones. It took about three hours of driving through lush green farmland to arrive at our destination.
Rotorua is built on a thermal area and we were able to enjoy the benefits of that natural phenomenon when frequenting the hotel mineral pools and spa baths. Even the heating and warm water for the rooms was from the underground water supply. New Zealand was a bit chilly, it being their winter so it did get down to -4 over night at times and we awoke to frosted roof tops and icy puddles.
I got onto the course Monday and was immediately relieved. Reading the course reports it sounded like there were going to be a lot of man made obstacles trying to create a technical course. I was worried the “ominous bone yard” and “Log drops” were just going to be flow and speed destroyers without adding a challenging technical element, but the course designers had done a great job. We started in a “paddock” and were then fed into an ~ 8 min step climb with a couple chutes added in. We emerged from the climb at the top of a gondola crossed under the DH course and were sent down an incredibly naturally undulating field. If you were going too fast or hit the wrong line there was definitely some good launch to crash potential. After this comes the hardest part of the course, a slight graded grass climb up to the top feed-zone. Then it’s into the DH. We started with a couple drops and then switch backed up and down the hill side using all the terrain to get in tight steep corners and power climbs. There were a couple chutes, a log wedge which led into a series of log drops and finally the bone yard which fed you onto a couple short climbs before reaching the Start finish area. It was fun and challenging.