Heav­enly dump

Mt Hotham Falls Creek - - FRONT PAGE - By GREG O’CON­NOR

FAM­I­LIES are be­ing re­minded that safety is the num­ber one pri­or­ity as ex­cite­ment builds for a bumper ski sea­son.

Last month’s dump of over 120cms of snow in a few days - the big­gest since 1991 - has set up one of their busiest hol­i­day pe­ri­ods in re­cent years, prompt­ing a re­minder to fam­i­lies of the need for a “safety first” ap­proach.

What started look­ing like one of the qui­eter snow sea­sons soon had people reach­ing for the record books as a blizzard known as “Snowmageddon” weaved its magic on the Mt Hotham and Falls Creek slopes.

Richard Tribe, co-founder of ski.com. au, said the mega-blizzard was a dream come true for storm chasers.

“We be­gan track­ing the sys­tem on June 15 and with Jane Bunn of Jane’s Weather wad­ing in and call­ing it for the 80-plus cen­time­tre mega-dump it turned out to be, ev­ery­one’s at­ten­tion quickly turned to the snow­fields,” he said.

“This ‘Snowmageddon’ was def­i­nitely the big­gest thing we have seen in a long time.”

In fact, ski.com.au broke a 10-year record for sin­gle-day web traf­fic, ex­ceed­ing more than 100,000 vis­i­tors logged on to check the snow­cams.

“There has been a lot of talk about Aus­tralian’s pre­fer­ring to ski over­seas of late, but it turns out you just need a real blizzard and they are fired up in the droves to ski lo­cal,” Mr Tribe said.

“I have not seen this sort of in­ter­est for a long time.”

Falls Creek Ski Lifts brand man­ager Anthony O’Shea said the re­sort was in the best shape pos­si­ble for the school hol­i­day pe­riod. “It’s look­ing ter­rific,” he said. “The snow was late to the party but thanks to ‘Snowmageddon’ the whole place has been trans­formed and we’re now close to full oper­a­tion.

“This is a phenom­e­nal re­sult and sets us up for the whole sea­son,” he said.

Mr O’Shea said there had been a ma­jor in­crease in in­ter­est in the snow re­sorts as a re­sult of the blizzard.

“Our re­search shows that people don’t buy be­fore they have to, but the ‘Snowmageddon’ and the fol­low-up ‘Snowzilla’ have pro­duced a mas­sive surge in in­ter­est,” he said.

Mr O’Shea said safety was al­ways a pri­or­ity for the snow sea­son.

“We’re a fam­ily friendly re­sort and there are al­ways pre­cau­tions that need to be taken,” he said.

“We en­cour­age fam­i­lies to fol­low sig­nage and re­mind them that it’s manda­tory for chil­dren to wear hel­mets.

“We’re blessed by a vast, wide open ter­rain and even on our busiest day of the past three years it av­er­aged out at just four skiers per acre,” he said.

“It’s a very safe en­vi­ron­ment.”

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