Category Archives: 15 min interviews

Made of the right stuff: 15 minutes with up and coming aerialist, Jayden Cooney

Last year we caught up with Perth teenager and up-and-coming freestyle aerialist, Jayden Cooney (see article here).  Jayden’s story is truly inspiring.  With a background in trampoline gymnastics, Jayden was encouraged by none other than current Olympian, David Morris, to make the switch to freestyle aerials.

So with precisely zero skiing experience, Jayden traveled to Melbourne to commence training at the Victorian Institute of Sport (VIS).   Later that year she was invited to travel with the VIS to Utah, USA, for more advanced training, before once again heading back to Mt Buller, where she stayed for the majority of the 2017 winter season.  Jayden’s goal is to ski in the 2022 winter Olympics in Beijing, China.

A lot of water has flown under the bridge since we spoke with Jayden, so we thought it was time we get an update on what shes been doing. When we caught up with Jayden, she was nestling back into life in Perth, where she was enjoying a short break before heading back to the eastern states for more water jump training.

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Ski school for future Olympians

SRA: Last we spoke you were heading to the USA for training with the rest of the Aussie team. How did you go?

Skiing for the first time on international slopes was an incredible experience as well as getting to experience some very deep powder, which was certainly a challenge at first but extremely fun at the same time.

During my time in the Utah we had the opportunity to watch an Aerial Skiing World Cup event at Deer Valley. This was my first time experiencing the world of aerial skiing on a competitive stage because unfortunately there are no world cups events in Australia. The event certainly sparked a fire inside to hopefully one day go from watching in the crowd to the one being watched.

I also got to experience my first ever White Christmas.  While I did miss my family who were forced to endure Perth’s 40 degree heat being able to go outside and watch snow falling on Christmas morning was a childhood dream come true. Utah provided us with waist deep powder on Christmas morning too, so we couldn’t ask for much else.

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SRA: Did you get to train with Aussie greats Lydia Lassila and David Morris? They must be great mentors?

Our world cup team was in the middle of their competition season so we were fortunate enough to watch a few training sessions alongside other countries including Belarus and Ukraine. Watching the top athletes train is an incredible experience and knowing that many started out like me is inspiring. Not only are they incredible athletes but they are generous enough to go out of their way to mentor those of us coming up through the ranks. I was fortunate enough to have David Morris mentor me through the program from the day I submitted my application.

SRA: Describe going off the big jumps for the first time – how scary was it?

In Utah we had the chance to hit some bigger jumps for the first time and have a go at skiing down the aerials landing hill. The nerves were certainly racing as we hit speeds around 50/60 km/h into a direct stop but it is a rush you can’t get doing anything else. The jumps and the speed will only get  bigger and faster from here on in and I cant wait for it to come!

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Having a flipping good time

Have you started jumping on snow yet, or are you still training at the water parks?

I have just started doing somersaults into water and upright jumping on snow. I still need to get a lot more numbers done on water before I can transfer these to snow but hopefully this time next year I’ll be flipping on snow.

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No friends on powder pond swimming days

Do you get much time off to go and say….just ski powder?

Our technical ski coach Chloe Merry is a powder enthusiasts so whenever there is a large snow dump in Utah you’ll always find us skiing knee deep powder amongst the trees.

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Jayden with the rest of the team

Where to now for Jayden Cooney? What the goal?

Currently I am focusing on my technical skiing and getting the fundamentals of aerial jumping secure before ramping it up in the coming months. The long term goal is to represent Australia on the world stage and be one of few athletes who have can say they have represented their country in World Championships events for both a summer and a winter sport. The ultimate goal is of course to become a winter Olympian.

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Glen Plake: more than just a mo-hawk (Part II)

Glen Plake, along with his trademark mo-hawk, is arguably the most recognisable skiier on the planet.  But, as we found out, he is more than just a hairdo – far more; scratching beneath the mo-hawk, we found a man of substance, honesty and a man driven by a burning passion for his sport..

In part 2 of this 2 part series (recorded in September 2016), we caught up with Glen at his home in sunny Nevada where he was busy preparing for a 500 mile cycle endurance race, just one of many of his passions along with competitive water skiing and car racing.  He was also beginning preparations for an upcoming trip to Nepal, where for the last two seasons, he’s been training local porters in the art of skiing and ski rescue. We began by asking Glen about his Himalayan project, before moving on to other subjects including his take on helmets, and the extent to which snowboarding has saved skiing from becoming predictable and even boring.… for part 1 of this series, click here. Continue reading Glen Plake: more than just a mo-hawk (Part II)

Glen Plake: more than a just mo-hawk (Part I)

Glen Plake, along with his trademark mo-hawk, is arguably the most recognisable skiier of modern times.  But, he is more than just a hairdo – scratching beneath the mo-hawk, we found a man of substance, candor and at times, piercing intellect….it’s clear that despite his maverick reputation, Glen Plake is still a man driven by passion – and he’s not afraid to tell it like is. 
Continue reading Glen Plake: more than a just mo-hawk (Part I)

Brodie Summers: Sunny by nature; nerves of ice-cold steel

If I told you Australia is building a formidable reputation in world mogul skiing, would you believe me?

It’s true! In fact, our potential was hinted as far back as the Sochi Olympics, with Britt Cox finishing 5th, Nicole Parks 15th and Taylah O’Neil 16th in the women’s and Matt Graham 7th and Brodie Summers 13th, in the men’s event. Continue reading Brodie Summers: Sunny by nature; nerves of ice-cold steel

Jayden Cooney: Reaching for the Stars

Despite the relative unpopularity of winter sports in Australia, few have thrust themselves into our lounge-rooms like the Freestyle Aerial event. Former World and Olympic Champion Kirsty Marshall (OAM) led the way in the 90’s, followed closely by Alisa Camplin (OAM) (remember the ‘Wrigley Extra’ commercials) and Lydia Lassila, also Olympic champions, and more recently, David Morris who won silver in Sochi in 2014.  Could the next champion be a born-and-bred Perth local? Continue reading Jayden Cooney: Reaching for the Stars

So you want to drive a Kassbohrer?: we ask a professional what it takes

If you’ve ever marvelled at the skill (and bravery) of Kassbohrer drivers as they move up and down the night-time slopes, then this is the article for you.  Snowriders WA recently caught up with the Falls Creek snow-grooming crew, and had the opportunity to ask exactly what it takes….what’s involved, and even about UFOs and other things that go ‘bump in the night’.  All images courtesy of Falls Creek. Continue reading So you want to drive a Kassbohrer?: we ask a professional what it takes

Snow forecasting as a way of life: 15 minutes with Pete ‘the Frog’ Taylor

Pete Taylor, better know across the snow industry as ‘the Frog’ has been forecasting snow falls in Australia since 1997, and New Zealand since 2010.  As founder and chief forecaster at one of Australia’s most popular snow-related websites, Snowatch, Peter certainly has his hands full.  From humble beginnings as an amateur forecaster on a well known Australian ski forum, Peter is now widely regarded as one of ‘the most reliable (and honest) long-range snow forecasters in Oz’, despite having no formal meteorological training.

The Frog’s God-like status has the Aussie and NZ skiing and boarding public hanging for his daily updates, whether it be through his website, YouTube channel, or his now frequent radio appearances.  With a small family, a full time job and a website to run, we caught up with Peter in what must have been a rare moment of downtime, and began by asking him how he fits it all in……

Continue reading Snow forecasting as a way of life: 15 minutes with Pete ‘the Frog’ Taylor

Jon Hutchins, Hotham CEO: on the challenges of operating a ski resort in the 21st Century

Hotham Alpine Resort, nestled in the Victorian highlands, is clearly an Australian favourite. Boosting average annual snow falls of 3 m, and some of the most challenging and picturesque terrain on offer anywhere, Hotham is an iconic destination for skiiers and boarders alike.

In this article, the latest in our 15 minute series, we caught up with Hotham CEO, Jon Hutchins, to get the low down on what’s happening at the resort, the challenges it faces, and most importantly, whether he and his staff are allowed to ski/board on powder days…..  Continue reading Jon Hutchins, Hotham CEO: on the challenges of operating a ski resort in the 21st Century

15 mins with alpine skiier, Greta Small – our next Zali Steggal?

Greta Small was just three years old when Zali Steggal won Australia’s first and only Olympic medal in women’s alpine skiing.  Eighteen years later, Greta Small is aiming to emulate her hero, when she competes in her second Olympic games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, in just 18 months time. 

Despite her young years, Greta is no stranger to international competition.  First competing at an international level in 2012, Small has gone on to become one of Australia’s most promising winter athletes. At the 2014 Sochi winter games, she represented Australian in all five (!) alpine skiing disciplines, finishing 15 in the Super Combined event – the best result for an Australian skiier in 12 years, despite being the second youngest in the field!

We caught up with Greta at her winter home, Mt Hotham, where she was busy training for the 2016-17 world cup season, after recovering from an earlier injury sustained in competition in late 2015.  We started the interview by asking Greta about an odd geographic coincidence…. Continue reading 15 mins with alpine skiier, Greta Small – our next Zali Steggal?

15 mins with Australian skiing legend, Steven Lee

This interview represents the first in what we hope will be a series of regular ’15 minute’ interviews, delving deep into the minds of the snow-industry professionals, snowsports heroes (old and new) and well….just a good bunch of interesting people, all of whom have cut their lives in and around the mountains. The interviews will hopefully inspire you, may surprise you AND if we’ve done our job properly, could make you quit your job and move to the mountains permanently……you can thank us if that happens.

In skiing-circles, our first guest needs no introduction.  Steven Lee was practically born with skis on his feet, and was a prodigious talent from a young age. Introduced to the sport at age three in the Victorian resort of Falls Creek, he rose through the ranks quickly, impressing at a National level as a teenager, before being selected at age 22 for the Sarajevo Olympics, in 1984. Steve went on to ski in three Olympics, Sarajevo, Calgary and Albertville, and was a main-stay in the World Cup circuit until 1992, picking up a gold medal in the Furano Super Giant Slalom along the way.  To his CV, he can also add sports commentator (for channels 7, 9 and 10), co-founder of Chill Factor magazine, and more than 10 years as national selector and president of Falls Creek Race Club. He has also done skiing stunt-work in skiing adventure films starring Roger Moore and Jackie Chan.

When we caught up with Steve, he was nestling back into life in his home of Falls Creek, having just returned from Hakuba, Japan, where he spends his summers running Hakuba Powder Detours.  The winter had once gain started slowly, but Steve was optimistic that at least mother nature was trying……

Continue reading 15 mins with Australian skiing legend, Steven Lee