New Zealand freeskier Janina Kuzma has competed mainly in big-mountain contests like the Freeride World Tour in recent years. But in 2014, she hopes to compete in ski halfpipe at the sport's Olympic debut in Sochi, Russia.
Kuzma dropped off the Freeride World Tour after the 2012 season and went in pursuit of World Cup points in halfpipe. "It was a hard decision, especially since I was qualified for this past year on the FWT," said Kuzma.
On the Glacier
Kuzma, photographed recently while training halfpipe on the Blackcomb Glacier, is heading to Cardrona, New Zealand, in August for the World Cup's season kickoff.
She was born in Australia, but Kuzma grew up in New Zealand and now calls the mountain town of Wanaka home.
Road to the Olympics
Kuzma finished 11th overall on the World Cup circuit this year, effectively clearing her way to represent New Zealand in Sochi.
In the Background
"My background in skiing is definitely big mountain, but I think it has helped me in the pipe," Kuzma says.
"Janina has an outstanding technical level and mental aspect and is very strong physically," says Jean-Claude Pedrolini, the international freeski team manager for Vlkl, one of Kuzma's sponsors.
Kuzma has always shown great versatility in her skiing. In 2009, she became the first women to win both the big mountain and the halfpipe title at the New Zealand Freeski Open.
Back to Big Lines
Kuzma says she hopes to return to big mountain freeskiing competitions after the Olympics. "Maybe I can put some of the tricks I learned in the pipe in a big mountain contest," she says.