Category Archives: Editorials

2017 opening weekend is here and it’s set to be a cracker!

With a good mix of natural snow falls and perfect conditions for snow making, this opening weekend is set to be a cracker!  For the low down on what’s happening, read on.

Falls Creek

Falls Creek is not called the ‘snow farm’ for nothing.  True to form, they’ve accumulated plenty of fresh this week, especially on the south side and the staff have been cranking the snow guns at every opportunity. While its not certain exactly how much terrain will open, a little birdie tells us the team have been working hard on Towers, Main St, Nastar, Wombat’s & Mouse Trap. Expect an official announcement in the morning 😉  For the full schedule of events and further announcements keep an eye on their website by clicking the image below.

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Image Falls Creek

Hotham

Hotham has also enjoyed a cracking start to the season.  Yesterday Hotham announced the Summit Quad, Big D and Summit Trainer will all be spinning this opening weekend! Consistent snowfalls together with cold conditions have set the scene perfectly.  Cooler temperatures have allowed the snow guns to work their magic and the resort has never looked so good so early in the season!

And there’s more!! Hotham are set to bring in the 2017 snow season with a cracking fireworks display from 7pm.  Otherwise check out the action in the bars and retail outlets, from bubble wine and cheese at One-Tree Sports Boutique & Ski Shop, quality food and live music (Chill Bar & Café, Swindlers, The General and Zirky’s). You can also practice your skills at Hotham 360, Hotham’s newest indoor ski slope.  Click on the image below for the latest news.

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Image courtesy Mt Hotham

Buller

Buller this year invested $1.6 million in new snowmaking facilities, including its new Snowfactory technology which can make snow in any temperature. This clearly  paid off with the opening of Bourke Street last Friday for night skiing.  Buller has also done well this week receiving a healthy mix of natural snow and ideal temperatures for further snow making.  Today Buller announced that in addition to Blue Bullet, which has been operating since last week, Skyline, Express and ABOM are scheduled to open tomorrow.  Keep an eye on their website for further announcements.

As is tradition, there will be lots of  festivities right across the mountain with lots of free entertainment over the long weekend. The program is packed with fun activities for the kids like face painting and hula hooping, complimentary hot chocolate, gluhwein, roasted chestnuts and toasted marshmallows for everyone. Plus they have a fantastic live act performing on the village stage and of course their season opening fireworks display at 6:00pm. For the latest news click on the image below.

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Image Mt Buller

Perisher

Thanks to consistent natural snow falls, snow making and lots of hard work by the grooming team, Perisher announced today it is opening nine (yes NINE) lifts this weekend, commencing Friday.   Enjoy some turns on Goats Gully or shredding down Escapade. Perisher are planning to open the Happy Valley T-Bar, the Village 8 Express, Sturt and Mitchell T-Bars as well as the ski conveyor for beginners. The Perisher Kids area will also make its debut including the 2 ski conveyors and Tom Thumb! To top it all off Perisher are also celebrating with a huge fireworks display on Saturday night at 7pm over Perisher’s Front Valley!  For more information click on the image below.

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Image Perisher

Thredbo

Expect big celebrations at Thredbo this weekend as it celebrates it 60th birthday.  On the snow front, the long weekend is shaping up to be awesome with Cruiser, High Noon and Friday Flat all expected to open. But its not all about the snow!  On Saturday there will be five hours of tunes in the outdoor Village Square. Headlining is rising pop powerhouse Montaigne, her album Glorious Heights.

Did someone say fireworks? The region’s biggest fireworks display will light up Kosciuszko at 6pm while the king of carving Kenji Ogawa, fires up the chainsaw to create an icy village sculpture that will becomes the centrepiece of the popular GH Mumm Village Long Lunch on Sunday (now sold out).

The kids will be entertained too with lots to do including a village wide treasure hunt, face painting and art sessions. Keep an eye out for the roving mischievous Magician who is sure to amaze all ages with his sleight of hand bag of tricks.  The village bars and restaurants will be open, the party program big and with activities galore, this is set to be a lot of fun.  Get the latest by clicking on the image below.

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Image Thredbo

About Snowriders Australia

Snowriders Australia is an on-line community group for skiing and snowboarding enthusiasts. It serves as a meeting point for fellow riders and as a source of snow related information. Through our website, we regularly publish reviews, original articles (opinion and research), athlete profiles and news about upcoming social events including skiing and snowboarding trips. We also post links to relevant images, video clips and industry related news through our Social Media and Snow Forum pages, which together have roughly 20,000 followers.

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Diary of a snow-bound parent: two weeks in Hokkaido with kids

Guest reporter, Di McLean from Perth, Western Australia recently traveled through the beautiful Hokkaido mountains, with hubby and two children aged 4 and 6.   Here she writes about her experience.

My hubby, Steve, and I hadn’t snowboarded for nine years and we were itching to hit the slopes in Japan and introduce our girls aged 4 and 6 to snow for the first time. We decided to visit Hokkaido (the northern Island of) Japan, in late January. The timing coincided with the Western Australian school holidays and the period of reliable snow fall. Our schedule included 7 nights in Niseko, 3 in Sapporo and 4 in Furano.

The traveling

Our checked baggage included three large suitcases, one snowboard bag (which took both our boards and boots) and a couple of toboggans that we strapped together. These as we found out later doubled as sleds for dragging the kids around when they were too tired to walk! Our carry on was filled to the brim with bulky jackets, beanies and gloves plus changes of clothes for the kids. In case of accidents.

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To get from Perth to Niseko took approximately 20 hours (airport to welcome centre). The kids were very excited on the way over and didn’t sleep well, so were ratty (irritable) for a good portion of the travel time. Our four year old also likes to be carried. A lot. If I’m honest, there were some very challenging times! The journey home was much smoother when they knew what they were in for.

Niseko

The last time we were in Niseko was in January 2008. Since then, both my husband and I couldn’t believe how much it had changed. It is much more developed, much more westernised, busier and more expensive. But still awesome.

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We stayed in a 2 bedroom apartment in lower Hirafu, a five minute walk (15 mins with kids) from the main intersection. We were fortunate enough to have both my sisters (best Aunties ever) along for the Niseko part of the trip which reduced accommodation costs and helped immensely with the kids.

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There are so many bars, restaurants, shops etc. that it was impossible to visit them all. We were advised to book restaurants in advance, which we did, but still could not get in to several despite asking a full month prior. Its that busy in Niseko during peak periods. Once in Niseko, however, we found that because we were generally eating at 6 pm, we could get into most restaurants. Seicomart on the main road was a good source of snacks, cheap meals, alcohol and the basics for cooking breakfast in our apartment.

Sapporo

We stayed 3 nights in a Hotel in Susukino but in hindsight would have only stayed 2 as this was ample time to explore the main shopping arcades and fish market. The kids loved the pet shop and the amusement arcades best. We also took the kids to Nakajima Park which is very scenic and you can rent nordic skis for free and use them to scoot around the park.

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 Furano

Our last 4 nights were spent in Furano – an easy 2 ¼ hour train ride north from Sapporo. We really loved it there. We stayed in a Pension on a hill overlooking a vineyard just out of town where the owners cooked us amazing breakfasts and dinners and drove us to and from the slopes each day. Furano was very different to Niseko, for two primary reasons:  (1) it was next level cold and (2) it has a quiet, local feel.

We woke to -29 degrees on our first morning (-35 on the mountain) but generally it was between -10 to -15. There were therefore no drying rooms (as things don’t get wet) and no icy patches on the slopes as it’s too cold for the snow to melt, rather it just gets shifted around and then groomed. While the snow was amazing, on the coldest of days the kids couldn’t handle more than 1 ½ hours on the mountain at a time before they were too cold, usually on their faces.

The mountain is smaller than Niseko, with two main sides, the Furano Zone and the Kitanomine Zone. There were good off-piste areas but being our first time here, we didn’t have time to sufficiently explore them. There were no crowds and there is a ‘local’ feel to the mountain. The kids especially loved it in Furano with a huge range of beginner and intermediate, very scenic, long runs. Note that they do not offer group ski lessons for children under 6.

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The New Prince Hotel is at the base of the Furano Zone which has toilets, ski schools and ski hire gear on its ground floor. Beside the hotel there is a bakery and a forest area within which there are a scattering of 15 wooden cottages each selling beautiful and unique homemade crafts. Next to this area there was a kid wonderland area. Open from 4 pm there was tubing and husky sleds, igloos, ice sculptures all lit with fairy lights. We will definitely be returning to Furano and hoping that it has not changed too much before we do.

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Kid’s n’ snow gear: why you don’t need to take out a 2nd mortgage

By Clare Shiell

“We love dressing our kids in expensive gear only for them to grow out of it after one season!” – said NO ONE EVER!!!

Kids take a lot of effort – I never had grey hairs before I had kids, just saying – and the snow requires a lot of gear, and when it comes to gear, working out what’s essential and what’s not can be tricky.  As the Snowriders Australia – Victoria President, I clearly love skiing, and fortunately for me, my two kids love it too.  They also have champagne taste… but I’m a renowned bargain hunter and in my many years of planning and taking ski trips, I’ve got the kids outfitting down to a fine art. Continue reading Kid’s n’ snow gear: why you don’t need to take out a 2nd mortgage

Aldi ski gear: does it cut the mustard?

Yep – it’s that time again. Time to get out your elbows and fight tooth and nail to grab a bargain at this years’ Aldi snow sale.  Aldi offer a range of jackets, pants, mid and thermal layers, helmets, gloves and goggles.

SRA takes a closer look at their adult range of jackets and pants.

Value

Let us start with the price.  This year Aldi have again partnered with Crane and Inoc to offer jackets and pants starting at $AUD59.99 and $AUD49.99 respectively for the low-end garments, and $AUD119.99 and $AUD99.99 respectively, for the high-end garments. That’s undeniably cheap but what about quality?

Quality

First of all, how do you tell a quality garment from a cheap and nasty garment? Without getting too technical it just depends on what you want to do.  Quality garments prevent water from getting in, while allowing water vapor (i.e. sweat) to escape, with the quality garments doing it better than inferior garments.

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If you ride a few hours a day and rarely break a sweat, then water proofing of 10,000 mm and breathability 10,000 g/m2/24hr is probably going to be fine.  If however, you ride irrespective of the weather, ride hard or like to earn your turns (i.e. hike), then garments of 20,000 mm and 15,000+ g/m2/24hr are more for you.

Aldi offer two lines of product.  Their low end Crane range is water resistant to 12,000 mm, breathable to 10,000 g/m2/24hr and comes with built-in thermal wadding. In terms of warmth, water resistance and breathability, the low-end range is probably OK in average Australian conditions (to minus 5 degrees C) but not in persistent rain, or for folks who like to hike the back country.

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Aldi’s high-end Inoc range offers a surprisingly high level of water resistance and breathability at 20,000 mm and 20,000 g/m2/24hr respectively; numbers which are equivalent to the top brands.  And at less than $AUD120 they are a steal when you can easily pay between $AUD400 to $AUD1,000 for the same level of water resistance and breathability in name brands.  Be warned however, that the high-end range appears to be sold as a shell only, as it is not clear in the brochure whether it comes with a removable inner layer; so you may need to purchase your mid layers separately. Note, these are also available at Aldi for bargain basement prices.

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Durability

This is unfortunately difficult to measure based on the specs alone.  Do the zips last? Does it split at the seams? Do you get cold? All fair questions. Anecdotally the gear stacks up. Plenty of people close to us have purchased and used Aldi’s gear in Australia and even Japan, without complaints.

Style

As for style, we at SRA are not qualified to comment on what’s hot or not on the slopes this year – and frankly we don’t care that much.  We’ll leave that decision to you.  Would you be caught dead in Aldi gear?  Given its undeniable value, water proofing and breathability, our answer is probably yes.  Aldi’s snow gear sales starts on the 20 May 2017.

For more information on the technical aspects of skiing and snowboarding garments visit Rhythm’s ‘Fabric Explained‘ page.

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Did you know Aussie diggers could ski?

We were fascinated to learn today, on this of all days, ANZAC day 2017, that Aussies soldiers were drafted to specialist units in World War II, where they were trained in the use of skis! True story!

The soldiers were situated above Becharre in the Lebanon Ranges at 1981 metres, which is roughly equivalent to the height of Mount Feathertop, Victoria. The men were to take part in reconnaissance and fighting patrols and their training covered bivouacking above the snow line, tactics in offensive and defensive patrols, signalling and intelligence duties.

What a fascinating insight into the versatility of Aussie soldiers. Lest we forget!

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Image: Syria, Middle East. 1941. Snow sprays up as Australian soldiers attending the newly opened 1 Australian Corps Ski School in Lebanon are shown a snow removal vehicle at work on a road. The soldier at right is wearing white alpine gear.

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Image: 1942. Lebanon. Men recruited from Australian Army Units, now pupils at the 1 Australian Corps Ski School. These pictures show the morning parade before going to the training grounds. (Negative supplied by F. Hurley)

Feature Image courtesy of http://www.ww2australia.gov.au/index.html; lower images courtesy the Australian War Memorial.

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Scientists reveal volcano beneath Mt Perisher is a ticking time bomb

Scientists from Geo-Institute Australia today revealed the presence of a massive dormant volcano beneath one of Australia’s premier ski areas, Mt Perisher.

The discovery, described by experts as a significant geological find is also an ominous one according to Volcanologist, Dr Dr Ivan Redaldabooks. “This volcanic caldera is enormous; I don’t want to alarm people, but we are talking about a caldera 133 miles in diameter”. He added further, “Dormant volcanoes are by no means extinct volcanoes. Much like the super volcano at Yellow Stone in the USA, this volcano could erupt at any minute, and with devastating consequences”. “It really is a ticking time-bomb”.

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A volcano erupts in a European ski resort. Image: http://www.skiline.co.uk

Indeed.  Snow industry experts revealed exclusively to Snowriders Australia that a volcanic eruption in the middle of winter would be devastating to tourism, probably forcing a downgrading of conditions from Excellent to Very good, or heaven forbid, just Good.

Snowboarders approached for comment were surprisingly nonchalant, stating they wouldn’t notice a volcanic eruption anyway, and with lift tickets at $100 a day, no one’s coming in because of a little molten lava.

Ski Area Management was quick to respond to the news, stating the resort was well covered for climatic anomalies, but not geological ones: “Yeah, our groomers can deal with most snow conditions, but they’ve never had to deal with magma”, said Area General Manager Yuri Sosnowski; “this definitely presents a new challenge for us, but not one as difficult as building an 800 bed resort in a car-park”.

The Geo-Institute is expected to make further comment today, including that in all likely-hood the discovery is an elaborate April Fools Day hoax, as are all comments and quotes presented in this article.

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So you want to work in a ski resort?

So you want to work in a ski resort? You’re dreaming of parties and 100+ days on the snow, right? Good for you. However, not all snow resort jobs are the same.  Snowriders WA takes a closer look.
Job #6. Ticket Sales Attendant
These days, ticket sales positions are being replaced with on-line booking systems and/or vending machines, especially in resorts with electronic ski passes. But should you be worried? We think not. We ranked ticket office sales last in our top 6 for good reason. Ticket sales are generally strongest in the mornings, meaning you’ll need to start early. Really early. This will seriously curtail your night-time social life and limit opportunities for first tracks on powder days. But, if you like working in doors, don’t care about powder days(!) and like early starts, then ticket sales might be for you. It also helps to be good looking in this position, which immediately rules out about 70% of us.
Job #5. Lift Attendant
Lift attendants seem to have it all. They ski/ snowboard to work, have nights off and spend their days in the snow helping pretty girls on and off the chairlift. A charmed life? Maybe. In reality lift attendants get very few days off (maybe one a week), work in all manner of conditions (not just sunshine) and spend most a lot of their time freezing their butts off checking ski passes and de-icing chairlifts. In Australia, lift attendants are often the lowest in the pecking order, and may find themselves living in dormitory style accommodation with ten smelly, and very loud extroverts. Sure, you might get the girls, but how romantic is a room full of snoring men and a single bed? We ranked lift attendant No. 5.
Job #4. Ski/Snowboard Instructor
Ahh, ski instructing, the blue ribbon job!  Lets face it, you’re hot and even hotter on a pair of skis. And, you look so damn good in that red uniform.  Don’t believe all the hype. While ski instruction can certainly be a very rewarding and sometimes lucrative career, it’s a bit like breaking into the music industry – it’s low paid and difficult at first, and few ever make it to the top.  Until they get more work, and start earning tips through a network of private clients, early career instructors must often supplement their income with a second job.  Sure, as an instructor you’ll spend a lot of time on the snow, but it wont be your own time.  Endless lessons, endless drills and unfortunately, endless morons to deal with.  We ranked ski instructing No. 4 – a good option, but not the blue ribbon position it’s often cracked up to be.
Job #3. Bar Staff
Bar staff have a pretty good gig. They generally work nights and have their days pretty much free. That leaves plenty of time for skiing and snowboarding and first tracks are no problem as long as you can drag yourself out of bed after a late night working. There is also the obvious benefits of working behind the bar: staff drinks, that enigmatic ‘cool factor’ and endless opportunities with the ladies (or men, whatever takes your fancy).  There are not many cons to bar work. Get it if you can.  We ranked bar work No. 3.
Job #2. Ski Patrol
Ski patrol is like the CIA of the ski instructing. Highly respected, but less overt. Visible, but kind of mysterious. And always exciting. Ski patrollers get first tracks in the morning and plenty of time on the snow. They are first on the hill and last off it.  As good as they are, ski patrol gigs are impossible to come by as a newbie. You’ll need to be highly proficient in all conditions (not just a show-pony in a red uniform ;-)), cool under pressure and good with people. You’ll probably also have to undergo specialist first aid training and be available for arduous search and rescue missions, often through the night. We ranked Ski Patrolling No. 2. We would have ranked it No. 1 if it wasn’t for the sometimes appalling weather conditions, and the need to occasionally deal with traumatic situations (i.e. dead people).
Job #1. Dish washing
So finally we come to our No. 1 snow resort job. Dish washing or ‘Dish Pigging’ as its known in Australia, is not glamorous.  We get that.  It is however the best job on the mountain in terms of working hours and the freedom it affords those lucky enough to get this work.  Dish pigs generally work between the hours of 5 and 11 pm, leaving plenty of time for late night partying and plenty of time for skiing and boarding. You’ll also get first tracks if you’re disciplined enough to get up early.  Dish pigging positions are rarely advertised which one of the reasons they are so hard to find. They are often just one of the jobs going in larger hotels. You’ll need to position yourself well, let the kitchen staff know you are interested in working in a kitchen and prepared to start at the bottom. We ranked dish washing No.1 mainly for the opportunity to ski and party, qualities reserved only for the finest snow resort jobs.

Trump to ban snowboarding if he wins US election

In a sensational last minute effort to sway ordinary voters, US Presidential candidate Donald Trump last night said he will pass a law banning snowboarding if he wins today’s election.

“Those lefty snowboarders have been terrorizing ski resorts and otherwise taking jobs away from ordinary skiiers for years; it stops here!” said Trump in a statement to ABCD news. “I’m going to make resorts great again..”, he added further;   “by either banning the filthy practice or by building a fence down the middle of resorts, with snowboarders one side and skiiers on the other”. Continue reading Trump to ban snowboarding if he wins US election