Tuesday, August 13, 2002 - Athlete Perspective
Learning the Ropes of Australian Skiing

By: Sarah Peters

I woke up again this morning wondering if I had only dreamed that I am in Australia. After a visual check of my surroundings and peak out the window, I confirmed that it was not a dream. I am currently in the Snowy Mountains in south eastern Australia doing a whole lot of great skiing.

The nordic ski area is located at the Perisher Blue downhill resort in the Perisher Valley area. It is a 30 minute plus drive up from Jindabyne where I am staying in hostel type accomodations - a great way to meet people. I was a bit worried about getting up the mountain but Australians are heap nice and I had a daily drive set up by the end of my first evening here. The "skitube" is an alternate route up the mountain but is a tad expensive at around $30.00 return. The road is windy and narrow. Cars are flagged over by park officials and required to put their chains on if snow is falling!

So on my first day up the mountain the snow was falling like crazy but we eventually arrived at Perisher. Here I encountered my next obstacle - no one knew where the "Nordic Shelter" was! After I found it on the resort map, I was finally pointed in the right direction but now I was worried. You will imagine my surprise when I stumbled upon the shelter equiped with heat, a kitchen, small waxing area, washrooms, and a shower! A local race organizer Peter Cunningham and a racer named Leeann were there and offered to show me the trails.

The trails loop from the shelter. There are 10 km, 7.5 km, 5.0 km and 2.5 km loops. They all share a common trail at the start and the finish. The terrain is wonderfull and rolly. There are some nice continuous climbs but nothing too steep. The downhills are mostly friendly with one or two sharp corners. I was instantly impressed. The terrain is pretty open being at an altitude of 1750 metres but there are amazing Snow Gums. These are trees from the Eucalypt family that keep their leaves in the winter. This is equally impressive as the wind seems to be ferocious. Today, the temperature was -4C with a windchill of -15C. The afternoons are warmer with the snow getting wet depending on the cloud cover. I have been informed that classic waxing is challenging as the temperature hovers around 0C frequently.

Luckily, tomorrows race is skating so I won't have to worry about playing with klister or various stick (as they call grip wax.) It will be my first race and really just a warm-up for the upcoming races at this site. These are the Australian Championships and will take place on the 17th, 23rd, 24th, and 25th! I have met many of the Australian racers and am happy to be in such friendly company! Cheers.

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