I just received this letter from Nick in Australia. I love it because here in the US, we are knee deep in summer. It’s nice to get a refreshing reminder that winter isn’t GONE, it’s just on vacation, visiting friends down south, and it’s sure to return soon. I love that Nick has such a minimalist approach to snowskating. I love that he is sharing it with is family, and also acting as an ambassador with his local ski resorts. I love all the support he’s received from Snowskate companies and networks. Please read and enjoy, and if you have a cool snowskate story, please email me! KendraWilsonNV@gmail.com
Firstly, thank you so much for project snowskate, the videos, links, information and stories you have provided have inspired me and my family’s foray into snowskating and it is a much appreciated and unanticipated joy for us.
Our humble story starts in 2012 when my family of 5 were holidaying in the Victorian Alps in southern Australia. We fashioned a very primitive DIY snowskate out of a 40″ homemade plywood longboard with trucks and wheels removed and waxed epoxy base. We were visiting a very quiet and closed cross country ski area about 2 hours from our home. We walked up to the snow line and used out boots to stamp out a chute on a small slope in a clearing for our somewhat unstable and violent invention. We spent all afternoon riding and softly crashing in our DIY snowskate park. (I don’t think we actually had a name for it then)
We wondered if what we were doing was actually “a thing” and found lots of info, initially on Silverfish, your site and snowskaters.net about real snowskating. In 2013 we managed to return to the same cross-country ski venue at the start of the season (again closed due to lack of snow) and tackled the gentle slopes on a old Premier single deck and a prized Ralston standard bideck. The Premier was found locally and the Ralston was imported. Both were sniped Ebay bargains. My kids are 9, 12, 16 years old and with their friends they had a fantastic time just staying on for a stretch of about 50 feet sharing the two boards between the five of them and their Dads. Later that season we visited a few other cross country resorts with practice slopes for the skiers. We also spent a glorious week in late September, after the snow season had closed, at the Mt Buller Alpine Resort, where the snow had melted sufficiently to use our vehicle as a makeshift ski lift on the resort roads (normally closed to the public), while riding what was left of the man made snow on our Premier and Ralston. “best fun ever” was the agreement from all of us.
During the summer of 2014 with no obvious retail source of Snowskates in Australia, I managed to pick up 2 Libtech 39″ subs on sale from the U.S. by using an expensive third party shipping service and also spotted a pre-loved very old world industries 34″ sub locally on Ebay. I picked up some great matching trucks and grip from Jim Spiers at Predog. Jim had great advice and was more than happy to send a package internationally to us through customs with reasonable freight, which was great. We then located some decks and assembled 3 extra snowskates for our quiver for the 2014 season.
Now there is a skate each, with the Ralston being coveted by my 16 yo son, the Premier being assigned to my adventurous wife and the other 3 bi-decks being shared between me and my strong and independent daughters. (I told I am the natural pair for the shorter world industries sub as it is the most unstable and I bounce.)
In March, I was offered a US work trip to San Francisco and thanks to Jim’s advice managed to sneak up to South Tahoe and although suffering from a badly timed head cold, did venture out to watch about an hour or so of the Ralston Cup. Was blown away with the amazing performances and also very impressed by the inclusiveness of the event and the visibly positive experience for all involved. Hoping one day to come back for a longer stay with the whole family.
In May, I contacted all the local ski resorts here by email including a link to your great Mythbusters
video on youtube and asked about their policy on snow skating and lifts. So far only one resort has ruled it out, with no response from the others after a few reminders. Unperturbed, we spent a week in the Victorian High Country in early July with great early season snow at some quieter spots away from the resorts. We also discovered by accident that one of the smaller resorts near by, Mt Buffalo had closed its lifts due to fire and lack of reliable snow in 2009. On arriving at the old ski field we had found the perfect location to hike on some decent open slopes and we started to develop some speed requiring a level of quickly learned control. Even better than the “best fun ever”.
So our crew has adopted the name, the Buffalo Snowskaters and have a small Instagram channel with a few pics and videos of our experiences. A buzz for us when Danny Sheehan and Parole Boards liked our pics and vids. Ahh the joy experienced by just a few clicks. We hope we can entice a few other locals into the sport and who knows maybe one day it will be “a thing” here too.
I think there are some reasons why we find for our purposes “non lifted” snowskating Buffalo style is the “best fun ever”:
1. It is maximum fun with minimal investment. All we have need is a patch of snow. In our case, that is snow that nobody else wants except for a few cross country skiers and adventurous tobogganists.
2. The simple enjoyment of the act of sliding uncontrollably down a hill with very little consequences or likelihood of bruises, road/ice rash or bung knees due to ski or board bindings.
3. Lisa Simpson pointed out to my children that cross country skiing “sucks!”, and luckily snowskating without lifts is just as healthy, invigorating and I suspect a tad cool for those young’uns taking their tips from Lisa.
4. I remember as an Alpine skier from an early age, rushing to maximise the time on the snow and get the most use out of ski hire, lift passes and would stress heavily in bad traffic or chain fitting bays, feeling that we were missing out. Our non-lifted snowskate day trip routine is to wake up late, take a leisurely drive and arrive at the snow some time before lunch, hike, ride, hike ride, eat something, hike, ride a bit more until tired then head home when ever we feel like it. So relaxed and very de-stressing.
5. We don’t know any better yet. We haven’t experienced the lifted version because we are not actually allowed to pay the exorbitant lift ticket price and ride the lifts designated for skiers and snowboarders. I do wonder if the experience will be the same when the local lift companies get real.
So given you are in your summer, thought it might be fun to share a story from winter down under as a small way to thank you and everyone else in the snowskate community for sharing your passion and joy with us on the other side of the world.
Nick and family
http://instagram.com/buffalo_snowskaters. (Will surreptitiously post uncool proud father pics/vids here, if still allowed, once they are discovered by the young’uns :-)