2018 year in review for Aussie skiers and snowboarders

Scotty James of Australia celebrates with his family after winning the bronze medal in the Men's Snowboard Halfpipe Final, at Phoenix Snow Park during the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games, in PyeongChang, South Korea, Wednesday, February 14, 2018. (AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts)

It was the year that Vail didn’t buy Falls Creek and Hotham, Shaun White’s Air + Style never came to Australia and toboggans were banned from Thredbo. Welcome to the 2018 snow year in review for Aussie skiers and snowboarders. 

2018 started well when the ski company that dare not speak its name finally got one when Alterra Mountain Company signed their birth certificate and then introduced the Ikon Pass into the Epic Pass multi resort space. Confused? So were we.

With more resorts than Soul 7’s in the ski rack at Whistler, the Ikon threw their ring into the season pass hat with a pass that was unlimited for some and totally limited for others. The battle then began as Vail and Alterra went head to head on a ‘please like me’ spree with the consumer as the winner. Yay!

Buy buy buy ski resort frenzy

The Epic Pass scored Telluride, Hakuba, Fernie and Kicking Horse as new friends in the first quarter of the year. Then Vail Resort bought Crested Butte and Steven’s Pass and finished the year adding Rusutsu on to the Epic Pass. 

The Australian Financial Review would have you believe Vail Resorts then bought Falls and Hotham in the last two weeks of 2018. Only, they didn’t, not in 2018 in Australia anyway (still a day left in the USA to file but don’t hold your breath).

Not to be outdone, Alterra bought Solitude Mountain and Crystal and added Thredbo, Brighton, Taos, Cypress, Valle Nevado and Niseko (well played) to their Ikon Pass friends list. They finished the year with Coronet Peak, The Remarkables and Mt Hutt invited to the Ikon party. Then everyone had a good lie down.

Think of the remaining independent resorts, yet to feel the Ikon or Epic love, as Aldi waiting to happen in the Woolworths versus Coles wars. While Woolies and Coles were battling it out over 10 cent milk and sending dairy farmers into receivership, Aldi was busy making cheap ass wine that wins major awards at even more major wine shows.

Which skiers and snowboarders won what

In other 2018 news, Shaun White scored a perfect 100, only was it? He then announced Style + Air in Sydney then cancelled it when the event didn’t get the numbers, because he can, because he’s Shaun White.

Australian Scotty James won silver at X Games, bronze at PyeongChang Olympics and two FIS golds to finish his year.  Matt Graham won Olympic silver in moguls and Jarryd Hughes silver in boarder cross but it wasn’t enough to stop Olympic swimmer, James Magnussen from dissing our Winter Olympians.  

The snow world went mad as a snowboarder won ski Olympic gold and backed it up with snowboard gold the same week at PyeongChang.

The end of a ski resort era

Then a possessed chairlift in a ski resort in Georgia started spitting green bile and flinging skiers into the air like a slingshot. Things took a further turn for the worse when Thredbo, egads, banned toboggans and then Mt Buller’s Kooroora closed the doors on an era that no one remembers due to too many Jagie bombs at midnight. 

Meanwhile across the ditch Cardrona partnered with Soho Basin to create a future 900 acre ski resort expected to launch in 2020 and then they announced a new chairlift with new advanced terrain for 2019, just in case you get bored while waiting. Coronet Peak and Remarkables responded with a chondola of their own at Coronet and a new lift for the Remarks. Then Cardrona opened for skiing on the first day of summer. Touchè.

2018 was also the year that the great Lydia Lassila retired from aerial competition but took her chances on Survivor. 

It was also the year Mt Buller identity Hans Grimus passed away leaving behind a legacy that will surpass generations. Rest in peace and powder, legend.

So, what will 2019 bring? Will Hotham and Falls buy Vail (pun intended)? Will Australians breakup with Japan? Will America learn how to make a proper flat white? 

Watch this space. Watch this space. 

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Rachael Oakes-Ash is the name behind @misssnowitall and the founder of SnowsBest.com. A long time travel and lifestyle journalist and ski writer, she's been published in ESPN, TIME, Wallpaper*, Action Asia, Inside Sport, Australian Financial Review, Emirates Open Skies, Conde Nast Traveler and more. She was the Fairfax snow blogger from 2007 to 2017 and the Southern Hemisphere editor for OnTheSnow. Rachael is also a documentary producer, author, radio announcer and humorist.

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