Weather is no bar­rier when it comes to Hit­ting the down­hill slope in­doors

Mt Hotham Falls Creek - - FRONT PAGE -

A NEW down­hill opened at Mt Hotham last week but you won’t find it listed on any trail map.

Hotham 365, a play on the days of the year, is an ini­tia­tive of the re­sort man­age­ment board and is tucked away in a shed at Stop 10 on the snow bus.

The only one of its kind in Aus­tralia is seen as an add-on to the moun­tain ski ex­pe­ri­ence, open­ing on nights that don’t clash with tra­di­tional night ski­ing in the re­sort.

But most sig­nif­i­cantly Hotham 365 will be used as a train­ing ground for peo­ple with a dis­abil­ity who are look­ing to take up ski­ing, and their guides.

Dis­abled Win­ter­sports Aus­tralia man on the moun­tain Phil Knight said it opened up a whole new world of op­por­tu­ni­ties for their mem­bers.

“DWA will be in­ves­ti­gat­ing how best the weather proofed ski slope will be able to be used by our mem­bers and for guide train­ing over the com­ing months,” he said.

“For those of our mem­bers com­ing to the snow for the first time there is a se­ries of fac­tors that they need to come to terms with – the snow is one as­pect, adap­tive equip­ment, al­ti­tude, get­ting on and off lifts, ex­posed to the el­e­ments.

“There is enough of a com­mon­al­ity with the in­door slope to repli­cate the ski­ing ex­pe­ri­ence with­out hav­ing to bat­tle the el­e­ments or tack­ling get­ting on and off lifts – this is a way of eas­ing peo­ple into the ski­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, tak­ing it one step at a time.

“We have some 900 peo­ple who are part of Dis­abled Win­ter­sports Aus­tralia, 200 of those are guides.

“About 35 of those guides are at Mt Hotham and there is no secret of the fact that we want to grow that num­ber and I be­lieve that this slope, the only one of its kind at ski re­sorts in this coun­try, will help and en­cour­age that train­ing.

“Hotham has been in­cred­i­bly sup­port­ive of our or­gan­i­sa­tion – last year launch­ing an­other first Dis­abil­ity Vis­i­tors Guide and now Hotham 365 that will al­low us to train our ath­letes and vol­un­teers year-round and with­out be­ing weather de­pen­dent.”

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