Skiing in Australia

Last updated

CountryAustralia
Governing body Ski & Snowboard Australia
National team(s) Australia
Guthega is one of the four bases of Perisher, Australia's largest ski resort. Guthega ski resort.jpg
Guthega is one of the four bases of Perisher, Australia's largest ski resort.

Skiing in Australia takes place in the high country of the states of New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania, as well as in the Australian Capital Territory, during the southern hemisphere winter.

States and territories of Australia first-level subdivision of Australia

The states and territories are the first-level administrative divisions of the Commonwealth of Australia. They are the second level of government in Australia, located between the federal and local government tiers.

New South Wales state of Australia

New South Wales is a state on the east coast of Australia. It borders Queensland to the north, Victoria to the south, and South Australia to the west. Its coast borders the Tasman Sea to the east. The Australian Capital Territory is an enclave within the state. New South Wales' state capital is Sydney, which is also Australia's most populous city. In March 2018, the population of New South Wales was over 7.9 million, making it Australia's most populous state. Just under two-thirds of the state's population, 5.1 million, live in the Greater Sydney area. Inhabitants of New South Wales are referred to as New South Welshmen.

Victoria (Australia) state in Australia

Victoria is a state in south-eastern Australia. Victoria is Australia's most densely populated state and its second-most populous state overall. Most of its population lives concentrated in the area surrounding Port Phillip Bay, which includes the metropolitan area of its state capital and largest city, Melbourne, Australia's second-largest city. Geographically the smallest state on the Australian mainland, Victoria is bordered by Bass Strait and Tasmania to the south, New South Wales to the north, the Tasman Sea to the east, and South Australia to the west.

Contents

Skiing began in Australia at the goldrush town of Kiandra, New South Wales, in 1861. [1] The first ski tow was constructed near Mount Buffalo, Victoria, in 1936. Australian skiers competed in the Winter Olympics for the first time in Oslo 1952 and have competed in all subsequent Games, winning medals at every Games since 1998. [2] Malcolm Milne became the first non-European to win a ski race world cup in 1969, and Olympic medalists include Zali Steggall, Alisa Camplin, Dale Begg-Smith, Lydia Lassila and David Morris in skiing and Torah Bright in snowboarding. [3] [4]

Kiandra, New South Wales Town in New South Wales, Australia

Kiandra is an abandoned gold mining town and the birthplace of Australian skiing. The town is situated in the Snowy Mountains of New South Wales, Australia, in the Snowy Monaro Regional Council inside the Kosciuszko National Park. Its name is a corruption of Aboriginal 'Gianderra' for 'sharp stones for knives'. It was earlier called Gibson's Plains, named after Dr. Gibson, a settler in the district in 1839. For a century, Kiandra was Australia's highest town.

Mount Buffalo mountain in Victoria, Australia

Mount Buffalo is moderately tall mountain plateau in the Mount Buffalo National Park in Victoria, Australia that is located approximately 350 kilometres (220 mi) northeast of Melbourne in the Australian Alps.

1952 Winter Olympics 6th edition of Winter Olympics, held in Oslo (Norway) in 1952

The 1952 Winter Olympics, officially known as the VI Olympic Winter Games, took place in Oslo, Norway, from 14 to 25 February 1952.

Australia has extensive skiable terrain during the southern hemisphere winter in the south eastern states and Australian Capital Territory, between elevations of around 1250 m to 2200 m. Elevation of the snowfields in Australia varies with latitude; however, viable winter snows are generally found above 1500 m: Thredbo, near Mount Kosciuszko, has Australia's highest lifted point at 2037 m and its base elevation is 1365 m. Kiandra, in the Northern Skifields, has an elevation of 1400 m, while Mount Mawson near Hobart, Tasmania, is at 1250 m. [5] [6] [7] [8]

Australia Country in Oceania

Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania and numerous smaller islands. It is the largest country in Oceania and the world's sixth-largest country by total area. The neighbouring countries are Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and East Timor to the north; the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu to the north-east; and New Zealand to the south-east. The population of 25 million is highly urbanised and heavily concentrated on the eastern seaboard. Australia's capital is Canberra, and its largest city is Sydney. The country's other major metropolitan areas are Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide.

Australian Capital Territory federal territory of Australia, containing the capital city, Canberra

The Australian Capital Territory is Australia's federal district, located in the south-east of the country and enclaved within the state of New South Wales. It contains Canberra, the capital city of Australia.

Mount Kosciuszko highest mountain in mainland Australia

Mount Kosciuszko is Australia's highest mountain, at 2,228 metres (7,310 ft) above sea level. It is located on the Main Range of the Snowy Mountains in Kosciuszko National Park, part of the Australian Alps National Parks and Reserves, in New South Wales, Australia, and is located west of Crackenback and close to Jindabyne.

Australia has several well developed downhill ski resorts, including Thredbo and Perisher in New South Wales, and Mount Hotham, Falls Creek and Mount Buller in Victoria. Cross country skiing is popular in such national parks as Kosciuszko National Park and Alpine National Park and is also possible within Namadgi National Park and in the Tasmanian Wilderness. Mount Buller has Australia's largest snow village with accommodation of 7000 beds, and is the largest most popular ski resort in Victoria.

Perisher Ski Resort ski resort in New South Wales, Australia

Perisher is the largest ski resort in the Southern Hemisphere. Located in the Australian Snowy Mountains, the resort is an amalgamation of four villages and their associated ski fields, covering approximately 12 square kilometres (5 sq mi), with the base elevation at 1,720 metres (5,640 ft) AHD, and the summit elevation of 2,054 metres (6,739 ft) at the top of Mount Perisher. 4.4 square kilometres (1.7 sq mi) of this area is covered by 240 snow guns, which are used to artificially supplement the natural snowfall. Perisher was acquired by Vail Resorts, United States on March 30, 2015 for a sum of approximately AU$177 million.

Mount Hotham mountain in Victoria, Australia

Mount Hotham is a mountain in the Victorian Alps of the Great Dividing Range, located in the Australian state of Victoria. The mountain is located approximately 357 kilometres (222 mi) north east of Melbourne, 746 kilometres (464 mi) from Sydney, and 997 kilometres (620 mi) from Adelaide by road. The nearest major road to mountain is the Great Alpine Road. The mountain is named after Charles Hotham, Governor of Victoria from 1854 to 1855.

Falls Creek, Victoria ski resort in Victoria, Australia

The Falls Creek Alpine Resort is an alpine ski resort in the Hume region in northeastern Victoria, Australia. It is located in the Alpine National Park in the Victorian Alps, approximately 350 kilometres by road from Melbourne, with the nearest town Mount Beauty, approximately 30 km (20 mi) away. The resort lies between an elevation of 1,210 and 1,830 m above sea level, with the highest lifted point at 1,780 m (5,840 ft). Skiing is possible on the nearby peak of Mount McKay at 1,842 m (6,043 ft), accessed by snowcat from the resort.

History and major locations

Alpine National Parks of the Australian mainland. AustAlpsRegionMap.png
Alpine National Parks of the Australian mainland.

The sport of skiing is now practised in three States: New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania, as well as in the Australian Capital Territory, during the Southern Hemisphere winter. [9] Skiable terrain stretches through large areas of territory from June to October and a number of well serviced resorts have been developed, including: Thredbo, Perisher Ski Resort, Charlotte Pass and Selwyn Snowfields in New South Wales; Mount Buller, Falls Creek, Mount Hotham, Mount Baw Baw and Mount Buffalo in Victoria; as well as the small resorts of Ben Lomond and Mount Mawson in Tasmania. [10]

Skiing Snow skiing is a recreational activity and sport using skis

Skiing can be a means of transport, a recreational activity or a competitive winter sport in which the participant uses skis to glide on snow. Many types of competitive skiing events are recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), and the International Ski Federation (FIS).

Tasmania island state of Australia

Tasmania is an island state of Australia. It is located 240 km (150 mi) to the south of the Australian mainland, separated by Bass Strait. The state encompasses the main island of Tasmania, the 26th-largest island in the world, and the surrounding 334 islands. The state has a population of around 526,700 as of March 2018. Just over forty percent of the population resides in the Greater Hobart precinct, which forms the metropolitan area of the state capital and largest city, Hobart.

Southern Hemisphere part of Earth that lies south of the equator

The Southern Hemisphere is the half of Earth that is south of the Equator. It contains all or parts of five continents, four oceans and most of the Pacific Islands in Oceania. Its surface is 80.9% water, compared with 60.7% water in the case of the Northern Hemisphere, and it contains 32.7% of Earth's land.

New South Wales has the highest terrain and ski resorts: Thredbo's Karel's T-bar terminates at 2037 metres, Perisher's highest lifted point is a close second at 2034 metres and Charlotte Pass at 1990 metres. In Victoria, the highest lifted points are at Mount Hotham with 1845 metres, Falls Creek at 1842 metres, and Mount Buller at 1805 metres. [11]

Jindabyne is the main service town for the New South Wales resorts, but most Australian resort centres have on-snow accommodation. Other ski-service towns include Cooma and Adaminaby in NSW and Bright in Victoria. Canberra is situated around two hours' drive from the New South Wales ski-fields, while Melbourne is in good proximity to some of the Victorian resorts (less than three hours' drive to Mount Buller and just 120 km from Mount Baw Baw).

Australia's highest town, Cabramurra, New South Wales, has private skiing facilities for residents and the resort village of Dinner Plain in Victoria also has ski facilities.

The mainland's highest peak is Mount Kosciuszko at 2228 m. [12]

New South Wales

A photograph by Charles Kerry of skiers from the 1900 Kiandra Snow Shoe Carnival. Kiandra, NSW, is where skiing began in Australia in 1861. Kiandra carnival 1900 Charles Kerry.jpeg
A photograph by Charles Kerry of skiers from the 1900 Kiandra Snow Shoe Carnival. Kiandra, NSW, is where skiing began in Australia in 1861.

[1]

New South Wales is home to Australia's highest snow country, oldest skifields and largest resort. Recreational skiing in Australia began in 1861 at Kiandra, New South Wales, when Norwegian gold miners introduced the idea to the frozen hills around the town. [1] [13] The first and longest surviving ski club in the world, The Kiandra Snow Shoe Club, was formed at Kiandra in that year. [7] [14] [15]

Kiandra and the Northern Skifields

Selwyn Snowfields, July 2011. Selwyn Snowfields July 2011.jpg
Selwyn Snowfields, July 2011.
Cabramurra Ski Club. Cabramurra is Australia's highest town and has a private ski club slope for the use of members. Cabramurra Ski Club.jpg
Cabramurra Ski Club. Cabramurra is Australia's highest town and has a private ski club slope for the use of members.

Kiandra is often isolated by deep snow which made it inaccessible during winter. In 1861, Norwegian miners introduced recreational skiing to the snowbound mining settlement after manufacturing over forty pairs [16] of both short skis known as skates and the longer snow shoes [17] during the months before the first winter snow. To avoid confusion with a conventional skate the skates were described as (two palings turned up at the front end and about four foot long). There were no fence palings or posts in Kiandra in 1861. [18]

It has been claimed that an unidentifiable ski club (unnamed and without membership names) commenced in America in 1861. [19] The "Trysil Skytte- og Skiløberforening" (Shot and Ski Practitioner Association) was also founded in Norway, in 1861. The association held their first competition in January 1862 Alpine ski clubs were first founded in Munich, Germany 1891, Switzerland 1893, Arlberg, Austria 1901, followed by France and Italy. Sir Arnold Lunn founded the Kandahar Ski Club of Great Britain in 1924.

The “Kiandra Snow Shoe Club” held separate ski races for both ladies and children as early as 1885. Barbara Yan was the first identifiable woman documented as to having won a Downhill Skiing Championship. Yan also won the ladies downhill in 1887, the year her siblings won the girls' under-8 section and second in the under-12s. [20] In 1908 the club held the first ever documented International and Intercontinental Downhill Skiing Carnival. Results - America 1st, Australia 2nd, England 3rd. [21]

Australia's longest running skiing competition is the Balmain Cup. [22] By 1933 team racing was open to virtually all competitors from any club or imported talents but Arthur Balmain of Cooma believed this was unfair to local enthusiasts. He donated a perpetual trophy open only to competitors residing in or about the Southern Districts and only for members who held membership for twelve weeks in the local ski club. Arthur Balmain, whose company transported skiers to all localities, envisaged a competition that would encompass all clubs. He decreed that a team must compete for the Balmain Cup with all members competing in four disciplines: Downhill, Slalom, Jump and Langlauf. In 1946 the competition format for competitors eligibility was changed and the jump section was removed. [23]

In the wilderness region south of Kiandra, The Alpine Hut, near Mount Jagungal, was built in 1939 to cater for skiers. Access was arduous - via packhorse and ski. [24]

The Kiandra Goldrush was short-lived, but the township remained a service centre for recreational and survival skiing for over a century. The Kiandra courthouse closed as a police station in 1937, and was for a time used as a private residence, before becoming the Kiandra Chalet (until 1953) and later the Kiandra Chalet Hotel, [25] The owner of the Chalet ran a ski rope tow. The Chalet closed in 1973 and the building became a Roads Depot building. [26] Australia's first T-Bar was installed on Township Hill in 1957, but in 1978, Kiandra's ski lift operations re-located permanently to nearby Mount Selwyn (Selwyn Snowfields). [27] Selwyn is the most northerly of Australia's ski resorts with a base elevation of 1492 m and a top elevation of 1614 m. Selwyn is well suited to families and first timers, with 88% of terrain catering to beginners and intermediates, however the steeper gradient of the Racecourse Run provides some more challenging terrain for advanced skiers and boarders. [28] The longest run at Selwyn is the 800 m "Long Arm Run".

Longer slopes and more reliable snows lie further to the south and in the 20th century, the focus of recreational skiing in New South Wales shifted southward, to the Mount Kosciuszko region. [29]

Kosciuszko Region

Charlotte Pass, a pioneer of the Australian ski industry. Village elevation at 1760 m. Charlotte Pass 2008.jpg
Charlotte Pass, a pioneer of the Australian ski industry. Village elevation at 1760 m.

In 1900, a hut was built at Bett's Camp, above the Thredbo Escarpment, and came into use for winter skiers. The Hotel Kosciusko was opened by the New South Wales Government in 1909 at what is now Sponars Chalet, near Smiggin Holes. [30]

Thredbo, NSW, has the largest vertical drop of any Australian ski resort at 672 m. Thredbo July 2011.jpg
Thredbo, NSW, has the largest vertical drop of any Australian ski resort at 672 m.
Perisher Valley, from near the summit of Mount Perisher. Perisher from Mount Perisher.jpg
Perisher Valley, from near the summit of Mount Perisher.

The first Kosciuszko Chalet was built at Charlotte Pass in 1930, giving relatively comfortable access to Australia's highest terrain. [31] In 1964, Australia briefly boasted the "World's Longest Chairlift" [ citation needed ], designed to carry skiers from the Thredbo Valley to Charlotte Pass, but technical difficulties soon closed the facility. [32] [33] At 1760 m, Charlotte Pass has the highest village base elevation of any Australia ski resort and can only be accessed via over-snow transport in winter. [34] The growing number of ski enthusiasts heading to Charlotte Pass led to the establishment of a cafe at Smiggin Holes around 1939, where horse-drawn sleighs would deliver skiers to begin the arduous oversnow journey on skis to the Kosciusko Chalet. [35] It was the construction of the vast Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Scheme from 1949 that really opened up the Snowy Mountains for large scale development of a ski industry and led to the establishment of Thredbo and Perisher as leading Australian resorts. [36] [37] The Construction of Guthega Dam brought skiers to the isolated Guthega district and a rope tow was installed there in 1957. [38]

Ski fields up by Kosciuszko's side were also established during this period, though their existence is now little realised. The Australian Alpine Club was founded in 1950 by Charles Anton with a view to establishing a chain of lodges for ski touring across the Australian Alps. Huts were constructed in the "Back Country" close to Mount Kosciuszko, including Kunama Hut, which opened for the 1953 season. A rope tow was installed on Mount Northcote at the site and opened in 1954. The site proved excellent for speed skiing, but the hut was destroyed in an avalanche, which also killed one person, in 1956. [39]

Anton also recognised the potential of the Thredbo Valley for construction of a major resort and village, with good vertical terrain. Construction began in 1957. [36] Today, Thredbo has 14 ski-lifts and possesses Australia's longest ski resort run, the 5.9 km from Karel's T-Bar to Friday Flat; Australia's greatest vertical drop of 672 m; and the highest lifted point in Australia at 2037 m [40] [41]

The last establishment of a major skifield in NSW came with the development of Blue Cow Mountain in the 1980s. In 1987 the Swiss-designed Skitube Alpine Railway opened to deliver skiers from Bullocks Flat, on the Alpine Way, to Perisher Valley and to Blue Cow, which also opened in 1987. [37] The operators of Blue Cow purchased Guthega in 1991, and the new combined resort later merged with Perisher-Smiggins to become the largest ski resort in the Southern Hemisphere. [37] In 2011 Perisher had 47 lifts covering 1,245 hectares and four village base areas: Perisher Valley (elevation 1720m), Blue Cow Terminal (1890 m), Smiggin Holes (1680 m) and Guthega (1640 m). [42] The resort is spread across seven mountain peaks, with the highest lifted point being Mount Perisher Double Chair at 2,034 m and the greatest vertical drop on a single run being 355 m from the Ridge Chair at Blue Cow. [37]

Victoria

Australia's first rope tow was installed at Mt Buffalo, Victoria, in 1936. Mt Buffalo, Victoria, Australia.jpg
Australia's first rope tow was installed at Mt Buffalo, Victoria, in 1936.

Victoria is the State with the greatest number of ski resorts in Australia. The highest peak in Victoria is Mount Bogong at 1986 m. [43]

Mount Hotham Victoria MarysSlide.jpg
Mount Hotham Victoria
Mount Feathertop, Victoria, 1922 m, seen from Mount Hotham. View-From-Mt-Hotham-Summit-2008.jpg
Mount Feathertop, Victoria, 1922 m, seen from Mount Hotham.

A hospice was built at Mount Saint Bernard (elevation 1540 m) around 1863 along a track developed to link the Victorian gold fields. Snowshoes were developed locally to assist winter travellers and a larger hospice built around 1884. Recreational and practical skiing was being practised in the area by the 1880s and 1890s with skis made from local timbers, and making use of single steering poles. The first winter traverse of the Victorian Alps was made in 1900, via the Hospice and Mount Hotham. The Hospice operated as a recreational ski location into the 1930s, but was destroyed by bushfire in 1939. [44]

Skiing began at Mount Buffalo in the 1890s and the Mount Buffalo Chalet in Victoria was constructed in 1910. Australia's first ski tow was constructed near Mount Buffalo in 1936. [45] Buffalo's first ski lodge was built at Dingo Dell in 1954. A bushfire in 2006 forced the temporary closure of the resort and negotiations are continuing over a new lease on the property. [46] [47]

A stone cottage was built at Mount Hotham in 1925 to cater for a growing interest in sport of skiing and a Club was built in 1944 with the first ski tow installed in 1951. [48] A ski hut was erected at Mount Baw Baw, just 120 km East of Melbourne, in 1945 and a ski rope tow added in 1955. [49] The first ski lift went into service at Mount Buller in 1949, and in the same year a rope tow was installed at Falls Creek. [50] In 1957, Australia's first chairlift was installed at Falls Creek, [51] and the area is today the largest ski resort in Victoria.[ citation needed ]

The Mount Buller Interschools Event claims to be the largest interdisciplinary snow-sports event on earth. In 2008 it attracted 3500 participants. [34]

Snow play is also available at Mount Donna Buang.

Australian Capital Territory

The road to Mount Franklin, A.C.T., was built by the Canberra Alpine Club in the 1930s Road Closed Mount Franklin.jpg
The road to Mount Franklin, A.C.T., was built by the Canberra Alpine Club in the 1930s

The most northerly ski fields in Australia are located in the A.C.T. - in the Brindabella Ranges which rise to the west of Canberra, the capital city of Australia, and include the Namadgi National Park in the A.C.T. and Bimberi Nature Reserve and Brindabella National Park in New South Wales. The highest mountain in the ACT is Bimberi Peak, which lies above the treeline at 1912 metres, at the northern edge of the Snowy Mountains. [43]

A ski chalet was constructed at Mount Franklin in 1938 to service the Canberra Alpine Club. [52] Ski runs were cleared and ski tows were improvised. [53] The chalet later operated as a museum before being destroyed in the 2003 bushfires. [54] A new shelter designed and built by University of Adelaide students opened in 2008. Today, cross country skiing is possible in the area, when conditions allow. [55] Cross Country skiing is also practised at Mount Gingera, which rises above the city of Canberra to an elevation of 1855m, and is the most prominent snow-covered peak above the city. [56] [57]

Snow play is available at Corin Forest, near Canberra, at an elevation of 1200 m. A development plan was drafted following the 2003 Canberra bushfires which would see three 600 m chairlifts installed together with snowmaking facilities and accommodation at this site. [58]

As has proved to be the case throughout the neighbouring Kosciusko National Park ski resorts, recent developments in artificial snowmaking capacity would allow for the enhancement of previously utilised ski slopes in the ACT, but the Namadgi National Park Draft Management Plan of September 2005 downplayed the future development of skiing as a sport in the Park, citing environmental concerns and suggesting that "climate change" has made conditions "less favourable": [59]

Tasmania

The Summit Run, Ben Lomond, Tasmania Summit run.jpg
The Summit Run, Ben Lomond, Tasmania

The most southerly ski fields in Australia are located in Tasmania, a mountainous island off the southern coast of Eastern Australia. Much of the state is subject to at least occasional winter snows. Mount Ossa is the highest point on the island at 1,614 m (5,295 ft) but Tasmania has eight mountains exceeding 1500 m and 28 above 1,220 m. Also notable is the Central Plateau, at an elevation of around 900 m. The capital city of Hobart is built at the base of Mount Wellington, which at 1270 m is snow-capped in winter. [60]

Tasmania's premier Alpine skiing operations are located at Ben Lomond, 60 km (37 mi) from Launceston. [61] The village is at 1460 m and the top elevation is 1,570 m (5,150 ft). [62] Its season usually begins in mid-July and in peak season, its runs are served by seven lifts. [63] Limited downhill ski operations also exist in the Mount Field National Park at Mount Mawson, which is approximately 89 kilometres north west of Hobart and rises from 1200 m to 1320 m altitude. [64]

One of Australia's most scenic alpine locations is located in Tasmania at Cradle Mountain, where cross country skiing is possible. Cradle Mountain is part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, inscribed by UNESCO in 1982. [65]

Competitive skiing

The Start of the Girls' Snowshoe Race, Kiandra c. 1900 The start of girls' snowshoe race, Kiandra.jpg
The Start of the Girls' Snowshoe Race, Kiandra c. 1900

Australia was a pioneer nation in the sport of ski racing, with annual ski races being conducted at Kiandra during the 19th Century. The Kiandra snow shoe club is the oldest ski club in the world. [66] [67] The club was formed in 1861 by three Norwegians, Elias Gottaas, Soren Torp and Carl Bjerknes on the Kiandra Gold Fields, NSW. This original Kiandra ski club is now recognised as the first alpine snow ski club in the world, it also carries the distinction of being the longest continuously operating club. In 2006, the Holmenkollen Ski Museum confirmed that the first two ski clubs in the world were formed by Norwegians in 1861, "both in Australia and Norway". [68]

10 May 2011 The Federation of International Skiing included in a letter signed by the President Gian Franco Kasper the following statement: “I would like to commend you for having organised the first alpine ski races in the history of our sport. [69]

29 June 2011 Federation International Skiing wrote: “2011 is an historic year for Australian skiing, and the 150-year milestone is being celebrated across the nation's ski fields by many organisations. The FIS joins the congratulations for this important Australian anniversary, together for Kiandra's inaugural position in alpine skiing in the world. [69]

Ski races were conducted from 1861 then in 1908 the club held the world's first documented "International Ski Carnival". The results were: America,1st. Australia, 2nd. England, 3rd. [70] [71] In addition to the International Downhill Race, events included races for boys under eight, ten, eleven and fourteen; boys and girls Open Championships were also conducted. The events concluded with a "New Chum" event and toboggan race. [72]

The Federation Internationale de Ski calendar lists various alpine and cross country skiing, as well as snowboarding and moguls competitions in Australia during the month of August. [73]

The Winter Olympics & World Cup Skiing

Australian skiers competed in the Winter Olympics for the first time in Oslo, 1952. Australian skiers have competed in all subsequent Winter Olympic Games and won medals at every Games since 1998. [2]

Australians have competed in Olympic Alpine Skiing; Biathlon; Cross Country Skiing; Freestyle Skiing; and also in Nordic Combined (one competitor in 1960). [74] Of these ski events, Australia has been most successful in the sport of Freestyle Skiing in which it has won Olympic medals, produced World Champions and over 100 world cup medals. [75]

Malcolm Milne competed for Australia in Alpine skiing at the 1968 and 1972 Olympic Games. His 1968 Olympics 24th placing in the Slalom Event remains the best performance by an Australian male in that event. [76] In 1969 he became the first non-European to win a men's World Cup downhill event - winning first place at Val d'Isère. [77] Steven Lee became the second Australian to take a World Cup victory, winning at Furano, Japan in 1985, and Zali Steggall became the third Australian (and first woman) at Park City, Utah in 1997. [77]

Alpine skier Zali Steggall won Australia's first skiing medal at the 1998 Nagano Olympics winning bronze in the women's slalom event. Australian freestyle skiers emerged as a world force from the mid-1990s, when Kirstie Marshall was placed 6th in the 1994 Lillehammer Olympics. [75] The Olympic Winter Institute of Australia was established by the Australian Olympic Committee in June 1998 in an effort to improve the performances of its Australian Winter Olympic Teams, [78] and Alisa Camplin won Australia's first Alpine Olympic Gold Medal in the Freestyle Skiing Women's Aerials at the Salt Lake City Olympics in 2002. Camplin won Bronze at the subsequent Torino Olympics in 2006, while Dale Begg-Smith won Australia's second skiing Gold in 2006 in the Freestyle Skiing Men's Moguls. [79] [80] Begg-Smith won silver in the same event at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, [81] while Lydia Lassila won gold for Australia in the Women's Aerials. [82]

The sport of snowboarding is also popular in the Australian skifields and Australia has been represented at the Olympics in this sport ever since it debuted at Nagano in 1998. [83] Torah Bright, of the Snowy Mountains town of Cooma, New South Wales, won gold for Australia at the Vancouver Olympics in 2010 in the women's snowboard halfpipe event. [84] Bright's gold medal - combined with the gold and silver skiing event medals - made 2010 Australia's most successful winter Olympic Games. [85] The Australian team was the only Southern Hemisphere team to secure medals and was ranked 13th in the overall medal tally. Australia's two gold medals equalled the gold medal haul of former Winter Olympic host nation France and surpassed those of former host nations Italy, Japan and Croatia (in the Former Yugoslavia). [86] A parodical bid for Australia to host the Olympic Games at Smiggin Holes was launched by satirical sports commentators Roy and HG during the Salt Lake City Olympics: see Smiggin Holes 2010 Winter Olympic bid.

Cross country & back country skiing

The Kosciuszko Main Range. Towards Kosciuszko from Kangaroo Ridge in winter.jpg
The Kosciuszko Main Range.

The Kosciuszko Main Range in the Snowy Mountains of New South Wales offer some of the most challenging cross-country and back-country skiing in Australia, notably Watsons Crags and Mount Twynam on the steep Western Face of the Range. [87] [88] The Mount Jagungal wilderness area provides some of the most isolated back-country ski terrain. High country huts, often a legacy of the era of cattle grazing in the mountains, provide emergency shelter in these regions. [89] Seaman's Hut, near Kosciusko, was built as a refuge in 1929 to commemorate Laurie Seaman, who was separated from his party and died in a 1928 blizzard while attempting to cross-country ski to Mount Kosciusko. [90]

The Kangaroo Hoppet, an annual 42km Cross Country Ski Race, at Falls Creek, Victoria. Hoppet-2005-sun-valley.jpg
The Kangaroo Hoppet, an annual 42km Cross Country Ski Race, at Falls Creek, Victoria.
Sunrise on Mount Jagungal. Jagungal.jpg
Sunrise on Mount Jagungal.

Dedicated Cross Country ski resorts are located at Lake Mountain, Mount Stirling and Mount St Gwinear in Victoria and popular areas for back country skiing and ski touring in the Alpine National Park, Yarra Ranges National Park and the Baw Baw National Park include: Mount Bogong, Mount Feathertop, Bogong High Plains, Mount Howitt, Mount Reynard and Snowy Plains. The Kangaroo Hoppet is a leg of the Worldloppet cross-country race series which is conducted on the last Saturday of August each year, hosted by Falls Creek in Victoria. The showpiece 42-kilometre race attracts thousands of spectators and competitors. [34]

Cross country skiing can be possible in the Brindabella Ranges which rise to the west of Canberra, in the A.C.T, and include the Namadgi National Park and Bimberi Nature Reserve. Mount Franklin Chalet, built in 1938, in the A.C.T. played a pioneering role in providing lifted ski runs in Australia, however the chalet was converted to a museum and subsequently destroyed by fire in 2003, so today only cross country skiing can be practised in the area (when conditions allow). [91] Cross Country skiing is also practised at Mount Gingera, elevation 1855 m, a prominent snow-covered peak above the city of Canberra. [56] [57]

When conditions allow, Australia's rugged island State of Tasmania also offers cross country skiers some scenic terrain - notably in the UNESCO World Heritage area around Cradle Mountain. [65] Tasmania has 28 mountains above 1,220 m and much of the island is subject to at least occasional winter snow. [60]

The Australian High Country is populated by unique flora and fauna including wombats, wallabies, echidnas, and the Snow Gum. [92] The Alpine regions are subject to environmental protection, which has limited the scope of commercial development of skiiable terrain, [93] however Australia has extensive cross country skiing terrain. [94] [95]

A landmark expedition in early Australian cross country skiing was conducted in 1927, when William Hughes, of the Kiandra Snow Shoe Club, together with four members of the Ski Club of Australia made the first historic ski traverse from Kiandra to the Hotel Kosciusko (now Sponars Chalet). Their eventful journey, via the Mount Jagungal Wilderness and across freezing rivers, is retold in Klaus Hueneke's book "Kiandra to Kosciusko" and was commemorated by 150 ski tourers in 1977 in an event organised by the Kosciusko Huts Association. [96]

Snow conditions

Spencers Creek average snow depth chart from Snowy Hydro Spencers Creek Average Depths.png
Spencers Creek average snow depth chart from Snowy Hydro
Snowmaking machine at Smiggin Holes, New South Wales. Snow making machine.jpg
Snowmaking machine at Smiggin Holes, New South Wales.

According to the Australian Government's "Bureau of Meteorology", in most years snow is sufficient above about 1500 metres to sustain a "viable ski industry". However, snow falls can vary greatly from year to year. In 1973 temperatures remained too warm, while in 1982 it was too dry for much of a snow season. However, some other years have abundant snow the Bureau cites 1981 as an example. The unpredictability of Australian snow conditions was highlighted in 2006 when severe drought and a poor snow season gave way to a "White Christmas" and abundant snow falls in the alpine regions of New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania and even a low altitude snow fall on 25 December in the Dandenong Ranges on Melbourne's north-eastern fringe. [97] Snow making equipment at ski resorts has reduced uncertainty in recent times. [10] In New South Wales, a heavy natural snow season can see a base of up to 3.6 metres in August, at an elevation of 1830 m at Spencer's Creek, (near Charlotte Pass) - see below chart. Typically, depths will be lower than this. [98]

Low altitude and often dry climate; as well as seasonal (early spring) dust storms in the Simpson Desert depositing red dust on the ranges (causing less UV reflection and therefore faster melting) keep the snow season relatively short (June-Oct). Heavy snow can fall however, at any time between April and December in the Australian High Country (see chart from Snowy Hydro). The official opening of the ski season for most resorts coincides with the Queens Birthday Long Weekend on the second Monday in June.

List of downhill ski resorts

Olympic Ski Trail, leading to Perisher Valley from Mount Perisher. Perisher is Australia's largest ski resort. Perisher Olympic Ski Trail.JPG
Olympic Ski Trail, leading to Perisher Valley from Mount Perisher. Perisher is Australia's largest ski resort.

Alpine Skiing:

List of cross country ski resorts and backcountry locations

Cradle Mountain in Tasmania's UNESCO World Heritage Wilderness Area CradleMountain.jpg
Cradle Mountain in Tasmania's UNESCO World Heritage Wilderness Area
A trail at Lake Mountain cross country ski resort, Victoria. Lake-Mountain-trail.jpg
A trail at Lake Mountain cross country ski resort, Victoria.
Telemark skier at Mount Stirling cross country ski resort Telemark-skier-mt-stirling-1.jpg
Telemark skier at Mount Stirling cross country ski resort

Cross country ski resorts:

Major ski locations:

See also

Related Research Articles

Snowy Mountains region of New South Wales, Australia

The Snowy Mountains, known informally as "The Snowies", is an IBRA subregion and the highest mountain range on the continent of mainland Australia. It contains the Australian mainland's highest mountain, Mount Kosciuszko, which reaches to a height of 2,228 m (7,310 ft) above sea level. The range also contains the five highest peaks on the Australian mainland, all of which are above 2,100 m (6,890 ft). They are located in southern New South Wales and are part of the larger Australian Alps and Great Dividing Range. Unusual for Australia, the mountain range experiences large natural snowfalls every winter. Snow normally falls during June, July, August and early September, with the snow cover melting by late spring. The Tasmanian highlands makes up the other (major) alpine region present in Australia.

Skiing in Victoria, Australia overview of skiing practiced in Victoria

Skiing in Victoria, Australia takes place in the Australian Alps located in the State of Victoria during the southern hemisphere winter. Victoria is the State with the greatest number of ski resorts in Australia. The highest peak in Victoria is Mount Bogong at 1986m. The first ski tow was constructed near Mount Buffalo in 1938. Victoria has a number of well developed ski resorts including Mount Hotham, Falls Creek and Mount Buller. Cross country skiing is popular in such national parks as Mount Buffalo National Park and Alpine National Park.

Kosciuszko National Park Protected area in New South Wales, Australia

The Kosciuszko National Park is a 6,900-square-kilometre (2,700 sq mi) national park and contains mainland Australia's highest peak, Mount Kosciuszko, for which it is named, and Cabramurra the highest town in Australia. Its borders contain a mix of rugged mountains and wilderness, characterised by an alpine climate, which makes it popular with recreational skiers and bushwalkers.

Australian Alps Region in Australia

The Australian Alps, an interim Australian bioregion, is the highest mountain range in Australia. This range is located in southeastern Australia, and it straddles eastern Victoria, southeastern New South Wales, and the Australian Capital Territory. The Australian Alps contain Australia's only peaks exceeding 2,000 metres (6,600 ft) in elevation above sea level. The Alps are the only bioregion on the Australian mainland in which deep snow falls annually. The Alps comprise an area of 1,232,981 hectares.

Charlotte Pass, New South Wales town in New South Wales, Australia

Charlotte Pass, elevation 1,837 metres (6,027 ft), is a location, snow resort and village in the Snowy Mountains of New South Wales, Australia. The pass is located in the Kosciuszko National Park where the Kosciuszko Road crosses Kangaroo Ridge. Charlotte Pass is the closest village to Mount Kosciuszko.

Perisher Valley, New South Wales human settlement in Australia

Perisher Valley, commonly called Perisher, is a valley formed below Mount Perisher, a mountain that is located in the Snowy Mountains of New South Wales, Australia.

Blue Cow Mountain ski resort

Blue Cow is a ski resort that is part of Perisher located in the Snowy Mountains of New South Wales, Australia, within the Snowy Monaro Regional Council. The resort is situated within the Kosciuszko National Park and is administered by the NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service. During winter months, the only access to the village is via the Skitube underground railway. In summer, access is via off-road only. Blue Cow is one of the four resort bases within Perisher, Australia's largest ski resort.

Bullocks Flat New South Wales, Australia

Bullocks Flat is a flat portion of the Thredbo Valley adjacent to the Thredbo River, located in the Snowy Mountains region of New South Wales, Australia.

Guthega, New South Wales Town in New South Wales, Australia

Guthega is a ski village and the site for a hydro electric dam located in the Kosciuszko National Park, on the upper reaches of the Snowy River, on the western face of Mount Blue Cow, Snowy Mountains of New South Wales, Australia.

Australian Alps Walking Track

The Australian Alps Walking Track is a long distance walking trail through the alpine areas of Victoria, New South Wales and ACT. It is 655 km long, starting at Walhalla, Victoria and running through to Tharwa, ACT near Canberra. The track weaves mainly through Australian national parks, such as Alpine National Park and Kosciuszko National Park, though it is not exclusively restricted to national parks. It ascends many peaks including Mount Kosciuszko, Mount Bogong, and Bimberi Peak, the highest points in N.S.W., Victoria, and the A.C.T. respectively. The AAWT crosses exposed high plains including the Victorian Bogong High Plains and the Main Range in NSW. To walk the whole trail can take between 5 and 8 weeks. Food drops or a support crew are necessary, as the trail passes through no towns, although it passes close to the ski resorts of Mt Hotham, Falls Creek, Mt Baw Baw, Thredbo, Charlotte Pass and Perisher.

Winter sport in Australia overview of winter sports practiced in Australia

Winter Sports in Australia encompasses a great variety of activities across the continent of Australia, including winter sports played in snow and ice such as ice hockey. Climate varies considerably from the tropical North to temperate South in Australia, and sporting practices vary accordingly. Ice and snow sports like Skiing in Australia are conducted in the high country of the Australian Alps and Tasmanian Wilderness. Australia has relatively low mountain ranges, but a long history of participation in recreational skiing and the Winter Olympic Games. Australians have won olympic gold in ice skating, skiing and snow-boarding events. Australia's generally flat geography and usually mild winter climate otherwise provide ideal conditions for international non-snow/ice winter sports and team games like Rugby Union Football, Rugby league Football and Association Football (Soccer), which are all popular sports during the Australian winter and in which Australia has enjoyed considerable international success. Australian rules football is a home-grown winter football code with a wide following throughout Australia. Many other sports are also played or watched in Australia through the winter season.

Sport in New South Wales describes participation in and attendance at organised sports events in the state of New South Wales in Australia. It is an important part of the culture of the state. In terms of participation, the most popular sports in the state are netball, tennis and soccer.

Smiggin Holes, New South Wales Town in New South Wales, Australia

Smiggin Holes is a village in the ski resort area of Snowy Mountains of New South Wales, Australia, in the Snowy Monaro Regional Council. It is primarily a winter-only resort village. It is within the Kosciuszko National Park, and is administered by New South Wales Department of Environment and Climate Change. Access to the village is via road. There is an access fee payable to the national park, and motor vehicles are not permitted to stay overnight in the winter months.

Skiing in New South Wales overview of skiing practiced in New South Wales

Skiing in New South Wales takes place in the high country of the Snowy Mountains of New South Wales during the Southern Hemisphere winter.

Skiing in Tasmania overview of skiing practiced in Tasmania

Skiing in Tasmania takes place in the high country of the state of Tasmania, Australia, during the Southern Hemisphere winter. Cross country skiing is possible within the Tasmanian Wilderness and two small downhill ski-fields have been developed at Ben Lomond and Mount Mawson.

Kosciusko Alpine Club (KAC) is the second oldest ski club in Australia after the Kiandra Pioneer Ski Club (1861). It was founded in 1909, two months after the NSW Government opened the Hotel Kosciusko at Diggers Creek, the first hotel in the Kosciusko area. The Hotel Kosciusko became the winter home of KAC until 1930 when the Kosciusko Chalet opened at Charlotte’s Pass. KAC was the only ski club in the Kosciuszko area until 1920 when the Ski Club of Australia was formed.

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