Tony McCutcheon, or better known round here as Grom, is a pioneering kiwi freeride skier, and has been guiding with HMH since '96. With the launch of the NZ freeski book this week, we thought it fitting to shed light on Grom’s ski career!
Tony made his first precarious turns on a school trip from Dunedin in '84, and from then on was pretty much hooked, taking as many weekends and school holidays as possible to stay at friends' cribs in Wanaka. Tony picked up surfing around the same time and his prolific attitude to the sports deemed him the perfect grommet, thus crowning him forever as ‘Grom.’
Grom left high school in the 6th form and started work in the freezing works, which was pretty much the perfect job as he got the end of autumn off for a month of surf in Bali followed by winters off to go skiing… His first season at Treble Cone was in '87 and he’s basically been there every kiwi winter since! Post season, it was back to the freezing works to cash up and do it all over again! In 1990 Grom spent a winter ski touring in Kashmir, India. Following this he did a couple seasons at Red Mountain in Canada, and by then had picked up a few days of ski patrolling at Treble Cone during the winters here in NZ.
The dynamic movements of Groms surfing naturally made their way to the slopes and morphed into the iconic carving of wind lips and slashing of corners, that we see across freeride today. Grom got started on snow just before the snowboard became mainstream, and skinny skis were still the only option. However, as Grom's affinity for the mountains grew, so did the width under-foot.
In ’95 Grom entered the NZ Freeski Nationals at Cardrona. Prize giving wasn’t until much later and Grom had been convinced he would be taking home gold that day; you can imagine the disappointment when he realised that he had sorely underestimated the filthy Mohawk belonging to Jeff Small, who it turns out took the win..! Grom went on to place 2nd in the NZ freeski Nationals a further 3 times.
Winter ’96 was a crazy busy one for HMH, Grom heard they might need a hand, and before he knew it he was helping out every season. Fortunately for us, he’s still here!
In the late 90's and early 2000's Grom was doing back to back seasons between NZ and Europe. Hugh Barnard, HMH's now General Manager, was living in Chamonix and hooked Grom up with a modelling gig for a famous ski photographer; this eventually led Grom to Switzerland's infamous Zermatt where he would base himself for future seasons alongside his Swiss wife Susanne, whom he met in Wanaka in ’98. Ski Modelling, alongside rentals and tuning in the evenings, proved more lucrative than the highly competitive and poorly paid pro-skier route of the time. Eventually Grom picked up more and more guiding work in Europe, NZ, Greenland and beyond and morphed into a full fledged ski guide.
In the last decade Grom has completed his full NZMGA Winter Ski Guide courses and today, Grom is HMH's co-opperations manager and co-supervising guide. The grommet energy still thrives and these days in lieu of back-to-back winters, Grom spends his summers and weekends chasing wind and swell for kite surfing. To experience Grom's sultry style on the slopes, book a day out with him here at HMH!