Destinations

The Snow Gauge: what’s new on the slopes

Glenn Cullen - AAP

Your weekly ski and snowboard round-up.

FIRST TRACKS

Weather forecasters seemed to be in a funk this week, with more calls of “yes”, “no” and “wait” than when Michael Slater opened the batting for Australia. Even at the time of writing, the system that presented itself on Wednesday still confused many of the pundits, who were unsure of how much, if any, snow it would deliver.

Some accounts suggest a significant net result, with rain only doing a little damage. These mixed systems tend to favour higher resorts such as Perisher. If the snow level drops, they then do good things for the likes of Thredbo, which enjoys a much bigger vertical, but a lower base village with it. Victorian resorts perhaps won’t do quite as well, but it really is just a case of suck it and see. Props to Mt Buller too for offering a wind replacement day for ticket holders on Wednesday due to the conditions.

With suggestions that snow could reach the outskirts of places like Canberra later on Sunday, it will pay to take it easy if you are leaving any resorts for the city that day.

MIND THE GAP

Hothamgapjumer
The anonymous new kid on the block who backflipped the road and caused a social media stir on Sunday. Pic Mark Tsukasov

It didn’t break the internet quite like Mick Fanning, but in ski and snowboard circles, a photo posted on the Mt Hotham Facebook page on Sunday sure put a bloody big dent in it. It was a slick action shot to be sure, the skier dropping a stylish backflip over a road gap at Mt Hotham.

But what set it apart was the back story created by the marketing team. Instead of just letting it speak for itself, the crafty Hothamites suggested this was one wanted dude – and the resort was seeking to track him down. This, of course, led to angst, frustration, support and needling by the netizens of the snow community – and beyond. The net, ahem, result was a post reach of more than one million and 10,000-plus likes/comments – the biggest increase in likes ever on a single day for Mt Hotham’s Instagram and Facebook pages. The resort is keeping the skier under wraps, but let’s just say we’re hearing two former track sprinters Donovan Bailey and Ben Johnson would be proud.

TOP GEAR

The Anon M2, a "gamechanging" goggle according to Karen Reader from Paul Reader Snow Sports. Pic: Supplied.
The Anon M2, a “gamechanging” goggle according to Karen Reader from Paul Reader Snow Sports. Pic: Supplied.

People new to the sport tend to stint on goggles – and that can be a big mistake. While it might work out OK on a fine and sunny day, but when you add snow, fog or rain, it can be a recipe for a very ordinary experience. If you can’t see properly, then how do you expect to ski or snowboard properly? Karen Reader from Paul Reader Snow Sports in Sydney says, when buying goggles, the minimum considerations should be for it to have a double lens and anti-fog properties, and be a medium-sized frame. That should set you back about $59. But if you have some more cash to throw around, Reader says it is very hard to go past the Anon M2.

“These are a game-changer,” she says. “With their easy-to-remove magnetic lenses (different lenses suit different weather conditions), they absolutely blow everything else out of the water.” (Or snow we hope). Expect to pay about $259 with two lenses. If money really is no object, the Oakley Airwave 1.5 has an electronic display with wi-fi – but the reviews have been a bit mixed and they’ve already been heavily discounted (half price to $US325 or $A440) in the US. Web: www.paulreader.com.au

DEALING WITH IT

The international deals are starting to lob and Travelplan got the snowball rolling on some good ones in British Columbia. There are all kinds of accommodation/lift packages at a number of resorts, but The Snow Gauge likes the $665 option at Fernie for a week with some passes based on twin share. It’s a real all-round resort that genuinely caters for all levels of skier/boarder. I might be in the minority, but I’ll stick my neck out and say it’s my preferred option over Whistler (with better snow to boot). See: www.travelplan.com.au for more details.

CONDITIONS APPLY – WITH WEATHER GURU PETE `THE FROG’ TAYLOR

TheRemarkables
The Remarkables in New Zealand – looking just that in a fantastic shot taken by groomer Collin Schwartz.

A mix of rain and snow is expected in most resorts over the next few days. The ball game will change on Sunday as a cold front will come through and drop the snow level to about 800 metres. In what looks to be a stop-start system, up to 40 centimetres of snow could fall by Monday. New Zealand, meanwhile, continues to bubble along. The next significant system gets traction late on Sunday or on Monday and, once again, the Kiwis will enjoy snow to quite low levels in the South Island resorts.

For The Frog’s up-to-date weather forecasts: www.snowatch.com.au

LAST RESORT – A LOOK AT AUSTRALASIA’S FORGOTTEN ALPINE AREAS

SELWYN SNOWFIELDS: Often overlooked because of the stronghold of the big two of Perisher and Thredbo in the NSW market, little brother Selwyn is worth a visit, particularly for families and those relatively new to the snow. With 10 lifts (including two chairlifts) and a range of other activities such as tobogganing and tubing, Selwyn is more of a destination than it first looks and most things come cheaper here than at the major resorts. The cons? There’s no on-snow accommodation (most people tend to stay at Adaminaby or Lake Eucumbene, about 35 minutes away). And with a base elevation of 1492m and the top at just 1614m, the usual riders apply: snow can be marginal in the leaner times and there’s not really enough to keep stronger skiers and boarders entertained for long. Yet what it does, Selwyn does very well. Web: www.selwynsnow.com.au


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