Last year was a good one for Kiwi skier Sam Lee. He made his comeback from injury, landed on the podium at The North Face Freeski Open of NZ and a bunch of other Freeride World Qualifier comps in the northern hemi, and earned his spot on the Freeride World Tour. As a veteran of our event we were keen to hear what brings him back to compete every year?

Good to see you’ll be back competing at The Remarks this year. How many times will this make it, including events under the old NZ Freeski Open banner?

This will make it eight times, with the first being when I was 17 and 2013 missed due to injury.

What is it about this event that gets you frothing?

I just love the whole feel of the event, my mind is always blown watching new and unexpected approaches to a venue that has been pretty well skied over the years. I think people have always turned up to the NZ Open with an attitude that mixes the fun and looseness of freeriding in NZ with hard charging all or nothing competition runs. It’s a great show!

What’s your stand out moment or highlight from past years’ comps?

Watching Geoff Small win in Alta chutes when I was 17 was a huge inspiration and has always stuck with me, the line hasn’t been on since then but it is one of the first things I scope out each year.

What’s the secret to winning this event do you reckon?

I wouldn’t be surprised if this year’s winning line consists of airing over the entire venue from the top… You gotta go fast and go big!

How are you feeling about competing on the FWT next season?

I’m really excited! I think it’s going to be a hoot, and I can’t wait to go up against the heavy hitters of Freeride.

Meantime, what else are you up to back in NZ?

Ski instructing and Coaching Freeride groms at Cardrona, ripping around Treble Cone on my days off and hopefully a few adventures in the backcountry!