Lyndon Sheehan has been shredding the Southern Alps since his family moved from Australia to Wanaka when he was a grommie. Jumping on the local freeski movement, Lyndon was quick to get involved in park and pipe. Despite battling several knee injuries throughout his career, Lyndon stayed dedicated to his goal and represented New Zealand at the 2014 Sochi Games, finishing with a respectable ninth place in the Olympic Halfpipe Finals. Fresh of his four-year Olympic rollercoaster ride, Lyndon will be competing in both Halfpipe and Big Mountain at the Freeski Open.
You learnt how to ski in New Zealand, can you tell us a little bit about this and what it was like to grow up in the Southern Alps?
“I first got on snow at the age of seven when we moved to Wanaka, the first season was spent turning my pizzas into French fries at Cardrona, and my second season exploring the steeps of TC. From there I raced with the Wanaka ski club for three seasons, and moved into freeskiing at the age of twelve when I joined the local freeskiing programme. From twelve to eighteen I competed in Halfpipe, Slopestyle, Ski X and Big Mountain before cutting down to just Pipe and Park. The Southern Alps provided such an amazing environment to become a strong well rounded skier.”
You were an early convert to freeskiing; when you first started riding park and pipe did you ever expect it to lead you to the Olympics?
“At the start I just loved learning new tricks and being in the air, and didn’t think it would ever be an Olympic sport. It was only when I was about 16 that I stated thinking maybe one day these events will be in the Olympics, so it was an exiting thing to hope for.”
What’s been the highlight of your career so far and why?
“Definitely the night I competed in the Halfpipe Olympic Finals. To me it was amazing to be a part of bringing freeskiing, the sport that I love, to showing it off to the world.”
Preparing for international level halfpipe competitions takes a lot of dedication, what are some of the things that you’ve missed doing on skis while you’ve been focusing on halfpipe?
“I’ve missed jumping, rails and just honing around the mountain jumping off bumps, lips and cliffs! So I’m getting my fix of these again this season and trying to fit in a bit of ski touring here and there.”
You’re competing in both the Halfpipe and Big Mountain events at the Freeski Open, what sort of advantages do you think you will have given your strong background in park riding? Any disadvantages?
I would like to try bringing a few tricks from park to big mountain as I have done a bit in the past but it’s a hard thing to dial in tricks off cliffs, especially with the varying conditions of big mountain skiing, so we will see how it goes…
As a Wanaka local, do you have a ‘To Do’ list for any visiting riders?
“There are so many nice hikes around this area, go check out Rob Roy Glacier, Mount Iron, the Outlet Track, just to name a few. If you’re into mountain biking Sticky Forest is a must do. A leisurely stroll around the disc golf course with some buddies is also a goodie.”
Finally, breakfast of champions, what do you eat before a big competition?
“A bowl of oats with milk and a banana, I keep it pretty plain and simple.”