Despite an influx of international skiers this year’s 26th Kangaroo Hoppet has a wide open field Aussie’s best hope of topping the Hoppet
FALLS Creek will be a winter wonderland of cross country ski action on the last Sunday in August when the ski world comes together for Australia’s largest annual snowsports event, the 26th Kangaroo Hoppet.
Over 1000 cross-country skiers from elite superstars to aspiring beginners, will click into a pair of skinny skis and line up at the Hoppet start in Falls Creek Nordic Bowl, alongside ski friends from 26 countries.
In a big day of racing the Hoppet offers a unique combination of toplevel sporting competition and great family fun.
Whether it takes two hours or six hours, the Kangaroo Hoppet provides a unique opportunity to ski the Bogong High Plains of Victoria’s Alpine National Park, on groomed trails.
Race Director, Ben Derrick explained that the Kangaroo Hoppet brings together a worldwide family of ski friends.
“Being part of the Worldloppet series of 20 cross-country ski races, the Kangaroo Hoppet attracts an increasing number of overseas skiers wanting to do something they love, in a new and different alpine landscape,” Derrick said.
“What better way to see the world on skis and be welcomed in an atmosphere of personal challenge, family fun and camaraderie.
“It’s about making lifetime friends doing a lifetime sport.” Derrick said.
The course starts and finishes in the Falls Creek Nordic Bowl, with three loops extending out onto the Bogong High Plains and into the Alpine National Park: 42km Kangaroo Hoppet, 21km Australian Birkebeiner and 7km Joey Hoppet.
Derrick said with last year’s winner and Hoppet regular Valerio Leccardi staying home in Davos this year, the time is right for an Australian to take out the event for the first time since Ben Sim topped the podium in 2009.
“And locals reckon that we have just the man in Phil Bellingham, last year’s runner up. Phil has been back in Australia for some months since the last northern hemisphere season and is living and training up at Falls Creek,” he said.
“When considering the international competition at this year’s Hoppet, we need look no further than members of the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation Gold XC Team who will be based at Falls Creek during August for a four week training camp which will include taking part in the FIS Continental Cup races on August 19/20 and finish with the Hoppet.
“The leading man in the team is Matt Gelso.
“The leading Australian contenders for the women’s podium places are Sochi Winter Olympian Aimee Watson, and Katerina Paul who looks like making the move up to the main race after winning last year’s Australian Birkebeiner.
“As for the two Australian ladies who were on the podium last year with Sweden’s Maria Graefning, Casey Wright will certainly not be here this year, having taken up a coaching position in Alaska, and while Esther Bottomley has been seen enjoying the skiing at Falls Creek, she tells us that she has retired from racing.”