Team Atomic in NZ

Christian Pondella

The crew hit up club fields like Temple Basin, Cragieburn, and Broken River. Launch Gallery »

A common statistic in New Zealand: Sheep outnumber people, with some figures estimating a ratio of 20 to one. This month, a handful of Atomic's freeskiing team added to that human population, shredding New Zealand's Alps on the South Island.

Team members included Sage Cattabriga-Alosa, Chris Benchetler, Daron Rahlves, Dana Flahr, Eva Patscheider, Sven Kueenle, Daron Rahlves, Caroline Gleich and myself. We were joined by photographers Re Wikstrom and Christian Pondella. We were there to test 2012-2013 versions of the BentChetlers, a new Atomic binding, and a few new powder skis at Mt. Olympus, Cragieburn, Broken River, Temple Basin, and Methven Heli.

Despite a late start to the NZ winter season, we did find enough snow to ski, but high winds had left many areas scoured and icy. Benchetler still skied his pro model the entire trip. "I couldn't be happier with how the latest model came out," Benchetler said about his ski. "Aside from a new graphic (my favorite to date, actually), and a few minor cosmetic tweaks, the ski is the same and working great."

Along the way, we experienced some of the cultural complexities of New Zealand: driving on the left side of the road, meat pies, bouldering at "Lord of the Rings" film locations, and waiting on dirt roads for hundreds of sheep to move out of the way.

After almost two weeks, everyone parted ways with some staying on in New Zealand and the rest heading home to BC, Mammoth, Germany and beyond.

"This NZ trip was not just another shoot for a sponsor," said Austrian slopestyle skier Eva Patscheider. "It was more like one of those crazy adventure trips with the whole family you will never forget."

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