Record sea­son comes to an end

Alpine Observer - - People Around Town - By JUSTIN JENVEY

ONE of the best ski sea­sons in re­cent times has fin­ished with 120cm of snow still on the ground.

The chair­lifts at Falls Creek and Mt Hotham of­fi­cially stopped spin­ning on Sun­day, bring­ing an end to the best ski­ing and snow­board­ing in 17 years.

Both moun­tains saw three sig­nif­i­cant bliz­zards that helped de­liver the big­gest snow base since 2000, the cover forc­ing de­ci­sion mak­ers at both re­sorts to ex­tend the sea­son to Oc­to­ber 8.

Falls Creek Re­sort Man­age­ment CEO Stu­art Smythe said this year saw record vis­i­ta­tion brought on by the qual­ity of snow.

“What is even bet­ter to see, is that the in­dus­try is con­tin­u­ing to at­tract new en­trants,” he said.

“In­dus­try growth, as mea­sured by vis­i­ta­tion data, was up 29 per cent year on year.

“That is the best since 1989 and to­tal vis­i­tor days of nearly 1.6 mil­lion is the largest since records be­gan be­ing recorded in the 80’s.

“Septem­ber was ex­tra­or­di­nary, with an 11 per cent in­crease in vis­i­tors at the re­sort ex­pe­ri­enc­ing out­stand­ing spring ski­ing. “The fact that the In­ter­na­tional Poma was run­ning un­til the ex­tended close is tes­ta­ment to qual­ity of the sea­son.”

The fi­nal week­end at Falls Creek saw the auc­tion­ing of seats from the Ea­gle chair­lift which will be re­placed over the sum­mer, fol­lowed by a Pond Skim and the Big Dig prize give­away.

At Mt Hotham, re­sort man­age­ment board CEO John Hutchins said it was in­cred­i­ble to have ac­cu­mu­lated an over­all snow­fall to­tal of 473cm af­ter there were no ma­jor storms in the first month of the sea­son. “The fi­nal piece of the snow­mak­ing mas­ter­plan was com­pleted in the sum­mer and 12 new guns on the Sum­mit meant there was snow on the ground on open­ing week­end,” he said.

“We vir­tu­ally re­lied on ma­chine-made snow alone un­til the first big storm ar­rived in late July.

“From there we en­dured three bliz­zards that re­sulted in great snow and great ski­ing con­di­tions.”

Mr Hutchins also said the launch of Mt Hotham’s ‘True Spirit of Alpine Aus­tralia’ cam­paign helped draw new guests to the re­sort.

“It was suc­cess­ful in at­tract­ing new vis­i­tors to the moun­tain and saw 31 mil­lion dig­i­tal im­pres­sions, five times the pop­u­la­tion of Vic­to­ria,” he said.

“We had some unique at­trac­tions like the Alpine Na­ture Ex­pe­ri­ence and Hotham 365 and we en­cour­age new op­er­a­tors to ap­proach us about bring­ing al­ter­na­tive win­ter ac­tiv­i­ties.”

As Vic­to­ria’s lead­ing all-sea­sons re­sort Falls Creek won’t rest for long with the moun­tain bike sea­son set to open in just over a month.

The sea­son launch pre­sented by Blue Dirt Moun­tain Bik­ing is sched­uled for Satur­day, Novem­ber 19.

PHOTO: Chris Hock­ing

FI­NAL FUN: The pond skim was just one ac­tiv­ity that drew a crowd at Falls Creek on the last weeek­end of the sea­son.

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