An unauthorised ski jump by an unknown skier over the Great Alpine Road at Hotham early on Sunday 19 July has created a sensation in resort and on the internet. Hotham photographer Mark Tsukasov’s photograph of the jump received more than more than half-a-million views on social media in less than 24 hours, and has started arguments about whether it was an amazing feat or the height of irresponsibility, or both.
The hunt has been on to find the mystery skier, with as many theories about who he or she is as there are stories about what Ski Patrol and the Mt Hotham Skiing Company are planning to do to him or her when they find out, ranging from a lifetime lift pass to a lifetime ban.
Officially, we don’t condone this kind of behavior, and we completely understand why Ski Patrol wouldn’t want to encourage it. (But off the record, like all skiers and snowboarders, we were stoked to see the picture and to hear the skier landed safely and skied away.)
The whole thing happened before lifts were open at 7:30am yesterday, with the jump on the take-off side apparently built in less than 15 minutes. Ski Patrol arrived just in time to see the skier in the air and skiing away. Mark Tsukasov received an anonymous tip-off that a jump was being built in the area and arrived just in time to capture the moment.
While the pictures and the whole event captures the adventurous, rebellious spirit of Hotham perfectly, we also wouldn’t encourage anybody to try this at home or in resort. Obviously whoever it was who did this is a very accomplished aerialist, probably with years of training in freestyle programs and terrain parks.
The mystery skier joins a short list of others who have made the jump the over the past few decades, going all the way back to Peter Zirknitzer, who first jumped the ‘road gap’ in the 1950s. There’s an old photo in Zirky’s Bar to prove it.
We think it might be best if the person who made this can remain anonymous, the unknown skier, somebody who did something we all secretly wish we could do, but know we can’t and shouldn’t attempt. There are a million stories on the big mountain, and any number of other, safer ways to challenge your own limits and reach your peak at Hotham.