Man of the moun­tains

Wangaratta Chronicle - North East Regional Extra - - FRONT PAGE - By KYLIE WILSON

THERE would be few peo­ple around Mt Beauty and Falls Creek who do not know long term lo­cal res­i­dent Al­lan Mars­land. Mr Mars­land has spent decades as part of the lo­cal ski­ing com­mu­nity, hav­ing first moved to the area in the 1970s to teach at the Bo­gong School Camp. “I was at­tracted here by the op­por­tu­ni­ties, the life­style and the job,” Mr Mars­land said. He later moved to the Ta­wonga/Mt Beauty area. By the late 1970s, he had be­come part of the Birke­beiner Nordic Ski Club, then in its early days, and he has not looked back. A keen cross coun­try and down­hill skier, he be­came more closely in­volved in the pas­time and with the club as the years went on. These days, he can be found at Falls Creek sev­eral days a week in the win­ter. For him, noth­ing beats be­ing out on the moun­tain. “I love en­joy­ing the beau­ti­ful en­vi­ron­ment, get­ting out there in the beau­ti­ful scenery,” he said. His favourite run sees him head out “over the dam wall” be­fore head­ing along Bo­gong High Plains Road and into the Alpine Na­tional Park, where he can explore where his mood takes him.

“It’s a lovely, and more or less level, track,” he said of the run. Over the years he has been heav­ily in­volved in a range of win­ter events, in­clud­ing one of the big­gest in the area, the Kan­ga­roo Hop­pet. “The Hop­pet’s been a fan­tas­tic op­por­tu­nity for me,” Al­lan said. “It makes you feel proud of your town, and it’s re­ally great for Aus­tralians to be in­volved in, it gives lo­cals a fan­tas­tic op­por­tu­nity to be part of an in­ter­na­tional ski race,” he added. Al­lan said he has made many friends from all over the world due to his in­volve­ment with the event, and has even trav­eled over­seas to help share his knowl­edge with the in­ter­na­tional cross coun­try ski­ing com­mu­nity. This has in­cluded him be­ing in­volved in World­lop­pet (the or­gan­is­ers of an in­ter­na­tional se­ries of ski marathons) and the In­ter­na­tional Ski Fed­er­a­tion cross coun­try ski com­mit­tee. “It’s opened up a whole new world where I get to con­trib­ute some­thing and give back to the sport,” Al­lan said. He said the Hop­pet also boosted the lo­cal econ­omy and opened up a whole new world for lo­cal youth. “It opens up the eyes of the young peo­ple in the area to other op­por­tu­ni­ties,” Al­lan said. And although he was recog­nised for his work over the years with a Medal of the Or­der of Aus­tralia last year, Al­lan said that any work he has done for the com­mu­nity is truly credit to not just him, but the peo­ple work­ing with him. “You’re aware of what you’ve done, but you’re also aware of the peo­ple be­hind you do­ing the work,” he said. Al­lan said he would not trade liv­ing in the alpine re­gion for any­thing, and said he was proud to be part of the lo­cal ski com­mu­nity, which over the years has also pro­duced many Olympic stan­dard cross coun­try skiers. He said he is keen to help face the chal­lenges of the fu­ture, in­clud­ing the con­tin­u­ing devel­op­ment of cross coun­try ski fa­cil­i­ties at Falls Creek. Al­lan said he is look­ing for­ward once again to this year’s up­com­ing hop­pet, adding that the con­tin­gent of in­ter­na­tional com­peti­tors is as strong as ever this year, with 100 or more over­seas skiers ex­pected to com­pete. Among the prom­i­nent skiers in­volved this year will be last year’s World­lop­pet Cup win­ner, Aure­lie Dabudyk, who will be train­ing in the area in the lead up to the hop­pet, as well as com­pet­ing. This year’s Kan­ga­roo Hop­pet is hap­pen­ing on Au­gust 25 and more in­for­ma­tion is avail­able on www.hop­pet.com.au.

PHOTO: Nathan Fen­ton

FA­MIL­IAR FACE: Al­lan Mars­land plays a large role in the Falls Creek and Mt Beauty com­mu­ni­ties.

PHOTO: Alex Craig

◆ WELL DONE: Al­lan Mars­land was recog­nised for his con­tri­bu­tion to the com­mu­nity when he re­ceived an OAM in 2017.

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