By Anna Segal
All photos by Rory Gardiner
Anna’s the number one female freeskier in the world, and is frustrated at the lack of freeski events in Victoria
I returned to Mt. Buller at the start of July with high hopes for the season. Reports of early snow had me itching to get up to the mountain and shred with my friends. I was planning to spend most of the Australian winter at home, doing the weekend warrior gig and getting around to as many resorts as possible to do the local comps. But my expectations of the Aussie season were a little dampened when I found out that not only was my local mountain refusing to build any park jumps over 20-feet, but there really weren’t many free-skiing events in Victoria.
Hosting a decent free-skiing event isn’t cheap and we are all aware that the tough economic situation makes sponsorship a struggle. However free-skiing is jaw dropping for spectators to watch and can be used as a marketing tool for both potential sponsors and resorts, especially those with limited snow and terrain. It frustrated me that many of Victoria’s resorts are not willing to support such a progressive sport.
Andre Bennett is one of Bullers best freeskiers and a Team Buller coach – the man to see if you want to learn to do Superman front-flips
A big deal was being made over the ‘Do the Dew’ comp , which was a snowboarders-only, team event. Jealousy consumed me as I watched the custom hut being set up on Bourke Street. I even found myself wishing that I was a snowboarder so I could join in.
A few days later I received a refreshing email inviting a bunch of the Buller skiers to a demo on the hut the night before the snowboarding event. We were all stoked…. the session was on! The first half hour was mellow, with everyone warming to the set up. But as soon as Dom Thomson began throwing switch 7s over the roof, others began to step it up. I witnessed Andre Bennett throwing Superman front flips, Watkin McLennan stomping Misty 9s and Nick Breheny spinning all kinds of tricks out of the roof rail. The Buller Rider groms; Tori Wilson, Conrad Lucas, Ollie Cain and Callum Jones were also killing it proving that Mount Buller has no shortage of young skiing talent.
Scotty Tailbut, in front of a Buller cloud show
After two hours of hiking the hut, burnt out legs couldn’t dim everyone’s cheesy grins. Unexpectedly it was also announced that there was not only prize money for best male (Watkin), female (myself) and best trick (Andre), but also a bar tab at the Abom for the whole crew!
This unofficial session may have been the only free-ski event at Buller this year, but hopefully the display of talent in Buller’s front yard has inspired plans for a scaled up event next season.
Anna Segal, cruising on the up-rail
Dom Thomson’s switch7s had the crowd “ooing” and “aahing”