Spring Happenings

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Late Snow at Falls Creek

Welcome to new members

The club would like to welcome all the below new members to the Birkie family for 2020/21. It appreciates your support and interest in joining for a year with really no benefits. See you on the snow in 2021.

  • Laidlaw family — Tawonga South
  • Germancheve/DiCristoforo family — Wattle Glen
  • Kelley/Lee family — Bright
  • Wurfel/Nyein family — Tawonga South
  • Greenhalgh family — Mount Beauty
  • Goodwin/Spinks family — Yackandandah
  • Aaron Knight — Mount Beauty (Search & Rescue)
  • Atila Kerestes — Mount Beauty (Search & Rescue)
  • Heather McFarlane – Melbourne

Birkie Bits by Nordic Ned

  • Clubhouse — the clubhouse is still closed until further notice.
  • Constitutional Review — thanks to the good work of our treasurer Jeanette Meaney the constitutional review is nearly completed. The changes will be communicated to members later in the year and a special general meeting held (via ZOOM) to vote on the changes.
  • Athletes still training — congratulations to our dedicated club athletes who are still training to improve fitness and technique and to maintain the hard-won gains for a future winter — local or overseas .. who knows?.
  • The Birkie Award (to replace the Ian Ryan Award) — watch this space for more developments.
  • FIS Sub-Committees for Women’s Cross Country Skiing — Club members Anna Trnka & Ronice Goebel have been nominated to be the Australian Reps on the FIS Sub-Committees for Women’s Cross Country Skiing and Youth and Children’s Questions respectively.

Kangaroo Hoppet Attracts Record Participants

The Australian and international skiing community rallied around the 2020 Kangaroo Hoppet, Australia’s international ski marathon, with 1901 participants from 37 nations taking part in the virtual “Do It Your Way” version of the event.

The Kangaroo Hoppet was scheduled for 22 August 2020. With Covid-19 restrictions on social gathering and international travel, the decision was made in April to replace the normal 42km, 21km and 7km cross country skiing events with a virtual version in which participants could take part in the event using an activity of their choice at any location over a three week period. 

The main aims of the virtual race were to maintain skiers interest in the event and to offer an exercise goal for people restricted by Covid-19 quarantine rules. 

With the support of our two major sponsors AGL and the Mount Beauty and District Community Bank the organising committee was able to implement their key strategies of keeping the entry fee as low as possible and offering a souvenir gift, as well as promoting the event through a dedicated Hoppet 2020 social media page, email, Worldloppet social media and international cross country skiing websites. With hindsight we can also identify ‘word of mouth’ as a very effective method of promotion not only in the local upper Kiewa Valley community with almost 400 ‘locals’ taking part, may of whom were either non skiers or alpine skiers, but also around the world through skiers sharing news of their involvement in the event via social media.

The response from both the international and domestic cross country skiing communities exceeded our expectations with the 1901 entries including 475 internationals and, with two enthusiasts completing their activity at research bases in Antarctica, the event reached all seven continents, which we believe is a world first.

Past event winners from Norway, Germany and the USA took part as well as local world champions in mogul skiing and mountain biking. Activities included running, walking, cycling, swimming, roller skiing, inline skating, paddling, canoeing, mountain biking, swimming, exercise machines, and, for the limited number of Australians with the opportunity to ski at Perisher and Falls Creek, (not to overlook ski tunnels in Finland and Norway), cross country skiing.

Feedback from participants to the organisers has been overwhelmingly supportive of the virtual edition of the event, with many Victorians in stage 3 and 4 lock-down saying how great it was to have something positive to work towards while living with coronavirus restrictions, while for international skiers it provided a unique opportunity to be part of the Kangaroo Hoppet. For the AUD$10 entry fee participants received a digital race number to print and display during their activity and a commemorative ‘buff’ neck tube, as well as the opportunity to upload their times, event details and photos onto the event results page. (AUD$10 is about €6). Entry of times and completion of distance was an honesty system. i.e. no proof was required.

Many participants, especially from the local community, have expressed interest in whether or not a similar virtual event might be offered in 2021 in conjunction with the real event. With Worldloppet investigating setting up a formal recognition of virtual activities associated with member nation’s events, all we can say is ‘watch this space’.

Photos, comments and video can be seen on Facebook page ‘Kangaroo Hoppet 2020 – Do It Your Way’ at https://www.facebook.com/groups/KangarooHoppet

Results and participant photos are at https://www.alpinetiming.com.au/results/r135/ 

Origins of the Kangaroo Hoppet Name

Such an important decision definitely needed a committee meeting (1990), no minutes were kept, but it went something like this. We need something Australian. Something to do with skiing. ‘Too hard .. let’s have a drink’.  Kangaroos are Australian. Kangaroos hop. Hopp is a word in Scandinavia meaning ski jump (or so some local linguistic expert claimed). Loppet is a Swedish word meaning bloody long ski race.  ‘Let us open another bottle of this excellent north-east Victorian red wine’. Kangaroo loppet ..  Kangaroo hop .. ‘Aargh! Someone go out and get another bottle’. Kangaroo Hoppet!

2020 Perisher Valley to Kiandra Crossing

The opportunity only arises about once every 2 – 3 years but given its enormity it’s probably a blessing in disguise. The ski from Perisher to Kiandra – the Crossing – is etched in Australian skiing history. Herbert Schlink and others made the first winter crossing of the Snowy Mountains in 1927 over a nearly a week. This was the first ‘Kiandra to Kosciuszko’ (‘Kosciuszko’ meaning Hotel Kosciuszko, or Sponars Chalet as it is today). They were caught in blizzards along the way, but thanks the huts they had specifically built in the summers prior they survived. 

In the 1960’s the idea of skiing across the Snowy Mountains, from Perisher rather than Sponars Chalet, to the historic town of Kiandra in a single day was born. The idea was to promote skiing in Australia. It probably wasn’t the greatest marketing idea ever developed, but it certainly set a benchmark in terms of Australia’s greatest long distance ski.

The first Crossing in a day was done by Kore Grunnsund and Otto Pinkas in 1963 in a time of 11 hours and 12 minutes. Their attempt 2 weeks earlier almost ended in disaster as they almost froze to death and had to spend the night in the open near Mt Tabletop. Other attempts are documented in Klaus Hueneke’s ‘Kiandra to Kosciuszko’ book, but efforts such as Robbie Kilpinen’s time of 8 hours and 11 minutes in 1964 and the jaw-dropping time of 6 hours and 18 minutes by Dave Hislop in 1985, which remains the ‘record’ today, are more than worthy of a mention. Click [HERE] to read three-time winter Olympian Anthony Evan’s account of his and Chris Darlington’s crossing on 1st September 2020 (scroll 1/2 way down the webpage). It wasn’t a bad time either! Note: you can also read David Hislop’s account of his Crossing at the same location.

From left: Chris Darlington and Anthony Evans. Two tired lads after skiing 81km in 6 hours and 55 minutes. This is the burnt-out Kiandra Courthouse (built in the 1880s) – the finish point of the K-K Crossing. Fortunately, it will be rebuilt in the coming years.

Looking Back

All Australian Birkebeiner Results 1979 to 1990

Maybe you or a friend skied in one of these eleven Birkebeiner races and would like to reflect on past performances or how you compared to so and so. Here is your opportunity. Click Birkie Past Results to view.

Roller Skiing

Rollerski Safety Best Practices & Current recommendations from the USST on rollerski safety.

The following is the roller ski safety protocol created by athletes and coaches of the U.S. Ski Team. Click [HERE]. The protocol applies to Aussie athletes as well. Please read and follow the recommendations. We don’t want a road fatality.

All together now…

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