Holly, Nate and Chumpy with their Athlete of the Year awards. Image:: Nick Parkinson
SSA Awards 2011
It began with footage of our World Champions and ended when ski legend Steve Lee found his way to bed at 4am; the 2011 Suzuki SSA Awards at the Royce Hotel, Melbourne were once again a successful compendium of honouring our winter athletes, catching up with a usually dissipated industry and enjoying a beverage or three.
Making four extra-good reasons to raise the glasses, Australia this year has no less than four World Champions. Nate Johnstone and Holly Crawford in snowboard halfpipe, Alex ‘Chumpy’ Pullin in snowboard cross and Anna Segal in ski slopestyle. Russ Henshaw has the ski slopestyle world championship bronze, and an X Games silver. The four World Champions were jointly honoured with the SSA Snowsports Athlete of the Year accolade, with Russ receiving the Outstanding Achievement award, making some envisage a not to distant future in which world titles are common enough for SSA to have to single out the champion amongst champions for the award.
Every athlete called to the stage was brought to the microphone by Emcee Stephen Phillips for an informal chat – rather than a speech. Along with the obvious questions about feelings of pride and achievement, Stephen also addressed, amongst other entertaining off topic subjects, the real-or-faux status of Britt Cox’s fur tippet and Holly Crawford’s new, shaven, hairstyle – both of which looked great. Everyone conducted themselves admirably at the microphone, a few careers in public speaking may be on the cards, and it was an excellent way to hear from the athletes about their season and their achievements.
Many other athletes and a few coaches were honoured for their achievements and contribution to Australian snowsports with awards including:
Individual discipline athletes of the year:
Alpine Scott Kneller
Cross Country Esther Bottomley
Freestyle Anna Segal
Snowboard Alex Pullin, Nate Johnstone, Holly Crawford
Junior Athlete of the Year Britteny Cox
Alpine Luke Laidlaw
Cross Country Phillip Bellingham
Freestyle Britteny Cox
Snowboard Scott James
Coach of the Year Ben Alexander, Ben Wordsworth
Dev. Coach of the Year Peter Topalovic
Outstanding Achievement Russ Henshaw
Rising Star Greta Small
As the official part of the night wrapped up the party moved downstairs where Mountainwatch hosted the now annual SSA Awards Afterparty. Fuelled by more drinks and tasty pizzas the networking took a more relaxed turn as people from all facets of the industry chatted about all topics well into the night.
Several sore heads were spotted at breakfast in the Royce Hotel the next morning – those lucky enough to have stayed on location nursed their fragility with eggs Benedict and espressos.