An end to the season but not to the snow!

So as is becoming tradition with my blogs I have to rewind a week to fill you in. After the Hoppet there is always one more race, an endurance race of sorts that lasts multiple nights but consists of only one actual race and a whole lot more dancing. The event is the Australian University Winter Games. This year to make sure we didn’t miss out on too much training, and didn’t do too much dancing, we only went up for two nights with the race in between.

I drove up without any of the usual team (Phil or Callum), because we were all coming from different directions. So the plan was for me to arrive and get my gear up to the top, and then later on when Phil and Callum arrived, I’d go down and pick them up, hence bypassing the outrageous taxi fare!

I had tried to pack light and had only a bag, a ski bag and an eski of food for Phil and I. However what I didn’t consider was that the overnight car park at Mt Buller is a good 2 km walk from where we were staying, which was basically the top most lodge at Buller.

Anyway with the cocky arrogance of an endurance skier I waved away the taxi and begun my trek… The issue with my fool proof plan to save money was that I hadn’t factored in my 28 hour training week and that I had done intervals and gym the day before and to say I was feeling as strong and robust as a kitten would be an overstatement.

After 300meters of walking I was already going lactic and my arms were falling off trying to carry the eski. This is where I decided to have a quick break and sit on the eski to review my situation. At this point in time, a free shuttle bus drove past and I tried to flag it down unsuccessfully. So with a few curses thrown in the bus driver’s direction I re-hoisted the luggage and like a Sherpa climbing Everest I set off again on my trek. The first corner you come to at Buller after the overnight car park it aptly named Hells corner. A few meters past this corner and roughly 600meters into the epic trek I decided another break was in order. Once again I sat down on the eski to recover. At this point in time a taxi drove past and I decided to throw in the towel, waving madly to get the driver to stop.

Once I finally reached the lodge and had unpacked I got the call to come back down pick up the other two lads. Needless to say I encouraged them to pay for a taxi…

That night was fairly quiet and when we arose at 7:00am to prepare for the race we were greeted with 140km winds and reports that a chimney had been ripped off a roof (later that day we discovered it was our lodge now sporting a new sky light in the spot where the chimney had once dwelt). As we were eating breakfast and laying bets on the chances of the race actually running we all got a text message saying,  “plan B come to the Pub for more directions at 7:45am”. Slightly amused we chucked on the race suits and headed down there to see what kind of event we were up for. Once we arrived we were informed that a race was going to be run but it involved a lot of skiing on skidoo trails and down-hill runs, plus a section of road where we had to take off our skis and run.

So luckily myself and a few others went off and skied the course and it was I feel  “classic Buller” racing, having to ski up the side of a mogul run and then back down it on the other side while dodging people and skidoos before heading off along some cat-tracks and up another downhill run, which is possibly the steepest gradient I’ve ever skied. To give you idea on how steep it was, the Buller organisers had allowed two sections of the course to be “ski free” where athletes could take off their skis and walk. In this section they had also hammered in star pickets and stung a rope along it so racers could mountain climb their way up the course.

To add to the fun the start was only three people wide and there was 50 starters in the individual mass start. Luckily Callum, Phil and Myself got pole position and we had also quietly decided that we wouldn’t ski aggressively until we were past the second corner, up until then it was only a person wide and had a fair few rocks mixed in. So the gun went and we cruised out at a moderate gentlemanly pace, as we went around the second corner however the pace quickened and Callum led us out, followed by Phil then myself. We stayed tight together up the side of the mogul run and around the top, but as we crested the top of the hill and then dropped back down, Callum and Phil caught a break. They threaded a gnarly line past a bunch of downhill skiers, which closed out before I could get through and some serious speed checking had to be done and a quick change of direction made to avoid a crash. Once I was back on course I checked to see where the other two boys were and they had already opened up a good, 30 meter gap on me. Over the next section of cat-track I tried to close the gap but the gap stayed constant. Around the corner before the mountain climbing hill Callum opened up a gap on Phil. As I hit the hill and begun to climb Nick another Aus team boy came up beside me and it was skate for skate pole for pole up the hill until over the top the 140km odd winds hit us and Nick dropped back again and I managed to descend in third through the village. After a cheeky jog across the road and down the final straight I skied across the line for third. Callum after a spectacular crash managed to hold off Phil for first by a second. At this point I would just like to thank the University Of Ballarat for the support they have shown me this year and for helping me out during Uni Games week! It was great to have two Ballarat Uni boys on the podium!

Top of the Mountain climb. You can see how strong the wind is by the red GS flag bent in half
Top of the Mountain climb. You can see how strong the wind is by the red GS flag bent in half

Since then I’ve come home and have been training with Callum again who has moved back in with me until we fly to America on the 20th of October for our longest overseas trip yet. Exactly 6 months away from home. Spring has been extremely kind so far and there has been some fantastic sprig skiing and roller-skiing with perfect sun. We have also both started a new weights program (fingers crossed my back has been holding up really well), which has been great. Bellow is a quality video of Callum demonstrating an exercise, guess whether it’s a part of our program or not…

For more information on Callum and how his body pulled up after the serious work out as shown, check out his blog, which is linked on the side of this page.

For now that all from me, I’m just loving the training and sun for a few more weeks until we jet off to more snow and a lack of sun. This year we’ll clock up over ten months on snow so will be interesting mentally to see how we all hold together.

Until next time

Train hard. Rest easy. Live for the moment.


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