Being a parent involved in the Interschools Snowsports programme can be a chilly experience but worth every minute writes Hilary Doling.

We stand at the side of the Snowboard Cross race course at Perisher in 2013, waiting for our sons to compete in the Interschool state finals. My feet are so frozen in my ski boots that I can no longer feel my toes and there’s such a whiteout that as we watch the kids come down they are black stick figures appearing out of the mist. My friend Kiki and I have been fantasising about hot chocolate for the last hour but we don’t want to miss a minute.

Being a parent whose child is involved in Interschools can be a chilly experience but it is never boring and seeing the joy your kids get from competing in the programme is worth every frozen moment.

Our boys didn’t go on to the Nationals (although they did both achieve personal bests) but that didn’t matter, they came off the hill buzzing with the excitement of competition and the sheer joy of being on-snow. So much so they are back to do it all again this year.

Its 6am in the morning as I write this and we’re about to jump in the car and head for Thredbo where the state finals are being held this year. I am waiting for Kiki’s car to arrive.

Our snow crazy –kids are not alone (nor are we); the Interschool events are hugely popular with over 220 schools entering last year. Children of all skiing levels are encouraged to take part in the regional events which is great for first-time competitors, although courses at the State championships are more challenging.

Only the top teams and individuals make it through to the Nationals but not all those who win are from the private sector or even schools near the snow; in 2009 Newport Primary on Sydney’s Northern Beaches was up there with the best.

My son took part in the Snowboard Cross and Snowboard Giant Slalom and there are five other ski disciplines to choose from too; Alpine, Skiercross, Freestyle Moguls, Cross-Country Relay and Freestyle. If there are other keen skiers at your child’s school, then you can enter a school team (two to four competitors are required to enter a team) but if your child is the only enthusiast they can enter as an individual.

Training for the events is a great way for children to make friends as well as improve skills. Some schools offer special race training or trips in the lead up to Interschools. Knox Grammar, for example, organises a highly successful snow sports trip to Thredbo that coincides with the early rounds of the Interschools.

Redlands has a Winter School residential programme for snow-mad students from Years 7-10 which combines academic study with snow sports training for a whole term at the Redlands High Country Campus at Jindabyne. For those who live nearer the snow, Thredbo and Perisher have kids’ racing clubs where children can hone their skills all season.

Who knows, maybe your child will be the new Olympic hopeful, like Torah Bright, Zali Steggall or Taylah O’Neill who all took part in the Interschools Snowsport Programme before they went on to become Olympians.

How to enter

Two to four competitors are required to enter a team. There are five different age categories with kids in Year 4 and below in Division 5, Years 5 and 6 in Division 4, Years 7 and 8 in Division 3, Years 9 and 10 in Division 2 and Years 11 and 12 in Division 1.

Entries can come from school teams or individuals. To find out more about the Interschools Snowsports Programme, ask your school or visit for more information.

Interschoolers who raced all the way to the Sochi Olympics

A number of our young Olympic athletes who competed in the Winter Olympics in Sochi got their start at Interschools. Here is what they had to say about the experience.

Nate Johnstone – Snowboard Halfpipe

Former student at Mona Vale Public School and Pittwater High School.

“Being down at the snow competing with all your friends, and then snowboarding all day (every day), are some of my fondest memories from Interschools.”

Taylah O’Neill – Freestyle Moguls

Former student at Meriden School and Sydney Distance Education High School.

“I started competing in Interschools in 2001 at the age of 6. My favourite memory is competing with my friends as a team and representing my school.”

Callum Watson – Cross Country

Former student at St. Pats in Cooma and Snowy Mountains Grammar School.

“I first started competing in Interschools at the age of 9. It felt like an important race and it was the nerves, rush and excitement that I distinctly remember.”

Britt Cox – Freestyle Moguls

Former student at Falls Creek Primary and The Scots School Albury

My favourite memory of competing in Interschool was the State Interschools mogul event in 2003. This was my first-ever mogul competition and I won! I remember being absolutely ecstatic.

Alex Almoukov – Biathlon

Former student of Berridale Public School, Monaro High and Karabar Distance Education Centre.

“Every year and every event was a bit of fun. Probably my first-ever event was the most memorable, when I just ran the whole course and crashed on every downhill.”

Scott Kneller – Skier Cross

Former student at Jindabyne Public School and Hurlstone Agricultural High School.

“I thoroughly enjoyed the variety of disciplines that I wouldn’t have otherwise competed in. I strongly believe the variety of skiing I was exposed to at such an early age has made me the skier I am today.”

Lavinia Chrystal – Alpine

Former student at Ascham.

“I competed in everything! Skiing – Alpine, Skier X, Moguls, Snowboard GS & Boarder X, and Cross Country. And I competed every year (including Year 12) – I think that is 10 years! Wow!”

Hilary Doling is the editor of Holiday with Kids Ski and Snowboard Magazine and founder of The Luxury Travel Bible. She knows kids and she knows how to travel in comfort and style.


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