Kangaroo Hoppet

When lazyness pays off

Epp Paal, Worldlopept CEO

– Every proper Worldloppet skier goes for a course inspection one day or two before the race, especially when it is the first time they visit that marathon. It is a ritual to stretch the legs after a long travel, testing skis on the local snow, checking out the other skiers, trying to find some familiar faces, and tuning the race-day logistics to get to the start.

This was also our initial plan in 2013, when we arrived to the Kangaroo Hoppet race centre in Mount Beauty. Coming from Europe to Australia for the first time, seeing kangaroos is as important as the ski test on the day before the race. The morning of our training day went on with hunting kangaroos for a photo, as they had been hiding from us during the previous days on our tour on the South Coast. Finally, we met them in the back yard of Allan, the race director. In addition – and this was a big surprise – we met my best friend Annette from La Transju, so we were socializing and catching up with gossip until skiing was postponed to the afternoon.

To reach the Kangaroo Hoppet course in Falls Creek you have to drive 20km up the mountain from Mount Beauty. And this road is not the Berlin-Munich highway, it has 187 sharp turns (yes, I counted them next time I visited the place J ) and there are gum trees, which can be up to 120 m tall, growing on the roadsides. So, for the time we were ready for skiing, the information arrived at the race office down in Mount Beauty, that there had been a landslide which was blocking the only road up. The cleaning of this landslide needed special machinery, which needed to be brought in from far away, as the moving surface with these high gum trees was tricky.

All “proper” skiers including race FIS technical delegate were blocked in Falls Creek and could not return to their housing in Mount Beauty and people who were on the way to their accommodation in Falls Creek were stopped at Mount Beauty. The “Aussies” are always “cool as cucumbers” and no panic followed: very quickly the list of housing exchange appeared at the race office walls and life went on. We as “lazy” skiers decided that it would have been enough skiing on the following day and went to the jacuzzi instead. There, we had a lot of time to congratulate each other on our laziness, which paid off this time.

Sometimes you have to just smell the lemons of the bushes, admire the cockatoos and spend time with friends instead of following the plan, you never know for what this may be good. In our hotel only 5 rooms were occupied that night, all the rest of the guests found housing somewhere on the floors of Falls Creek. On the race morning, road workers succeeded to clean one line of the road by 7 AM and the start of the race needed to have only one hour delay. The race started in fantastic sunshine and +8° C and ended up in a foggy finish, but who cares. Finishing this race my friend Annette became a Worldloppet Master!

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