Cool Wakushima, photographed in Wānaka by Jodie James.

Top Spot: Cool Wakushima, snowboarder


Kiwi athlete Cool Wakushima represented New Zealand in snowboarding at the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games, competing in Slopestyle. Also last year she placed 5th at the Open Snowboard Slopestyle World Cup in Laax, Switzerland. Cool chats about her passion for snowboarding and her favourite place to spend time in New Zealand.

“I have had a snowboard strapped on since I was about six years old and heading down the hill with my brothers. I’m 21 now. 

Growing up with my two brothers – one older and one younger – I feel like competing has always been part of my life. We compete with everything, even for food to see who can eat the fastest. So, competing with snowboarding came pretty naturally!

Today, I love the progression of snowboarding and I love the adrenaline that I get from trying new tricks. There are a lot of emotions that go into it and a lot of satisfaction that comes from landing a trick.  

Kiwi snowboarder Cool Wakushima.

Kiwi snowboarder Cool Wakushima. Photo by Jodie James.

I wasn’t actually interested in the gnarly tricks until I got a bit older. When I was 16 it hit me that I really wanted to learn the sport to make it my career. That’s when the competitions started to get fun.

We chase winters with snowboarding. We have the season in New Zealand as a training block, and then most of the competitions run from October through to April in the Northern Hemisphere. It’s a long season. But I love travelling and it’s great that I get to do the two things that I love at the same time. 

I do miss summer, but I get a little bit of it. My family lives in New Zealand, but my relatives are still in Japan, so I get to visit them in May or June. It’s not hot, but it’s warmer than I’m used to! 

My favourite place in New Zealand is home – Queenstown. I grew up in Queenstown and whenever I’m in New Zealand I like to stay close to friends and family. Mum and I enjoy taking the dogs out for walks a lot. There are a lot of walks with beautiful views here. Cromwell and Glenorchy are also really beautiful and I like going on little road trips there."


Story by Jo Percival for the Spring 2023 issue of AA Directions Magazine. Jo Percival is the Digital Editor for AA Directions Magazine.

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