The Snow Gauge

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The Aussie ski pic that broke the internet (kind of)

Posted by on Jul 21, 2015 in Australia | 6 comments

In 24 hours it reached a million people, had 10,000 comments/likes and prompted the largest ever single day boost in likes on Facebook/Instagram that Mt Hotham had recorded.

It never quite broke the internet like Kim Kardashian threatened to do – but the ‘wanted Hotham road gap jumper’ proved decidedly more popular amongst Australia’s ski and snowboard community than her famed derriere ever did.

I knew something was up when it was sent to me and I forwarded it through my own modest social media channels. Very quickly it had more than 20,000 views with thousands of likes and comments.

If you missed the whole thing have a look at the Mt Hotham Facebook page.

As a standalone picture, it is certainly cool, the backflip giving it a stylish edge. But the Hotham road gap has been done plenty of times before – in fact more than 50 years ago by local legend Peter Zirknitzer of Zirkys fame. There’s even a pic in his bar to prove it. So what made this so hot?

The ambiguity of framing the dialogue around the shot in such a way that suggested the skier was in trouble or wanted by ski patrol for his actions tipped it over the social media edge. The fact that you could, if you looked close enough, see the watermark on the pic by resort-based photographer Mark Tsukasov, was missed by many. Also the rather tongue in cheek responses by resort marketing on the Facebook page in response to angry “fun police” style comments.

“If we set things up with good humour and good grace it tends to work,” says the man behind the ploy, Anthony O’Shea, marketing manager at Hotham/Falls Creek. “But we can’t control the response. You have to remember that half the people looking at this are probably kids and not practised in irony.”

Still, as he rightly points out: “Any good story these days needs to be more than one-dimensional”.

Hence not just posting the picture.

And in answer to the obvious question …

“We won’t disclose who it is,” O’Shea says with a chuckle. “It’s somebody that has done that kind of thing a bit.”

Hotham’s road gap probably vies with Charlotte Pass as the iconic place to fly over some snow laden bitumen in Oz. Charlie Timmons, Johnny Lipzker, Luke Kneller, Tim Myers and Max Timmons certainly do a good job of the latter here from a few years back:

There’s plenty of great road gap sequences out there from overseas but is there anything cooler than saying you did it in Hawaii – after a dump of snow? This was taken in March this year:

And finally for the kids who are contemplating doing this. Just remember happy endings aren’t always a guarantee …

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6 Comments

  1. Care to point out specifically where this alleged Hotham watermark is on either of those pics? All I see is the photographer’s less than subtle watermark.

    • Tweaked the wording slightly: resort-based photographer – which it was.

  2. I couldn’t give a toss if it was real or not, I think Hotham resort management should be more concerned with why they won’t allow people to use certain toboggans on ‘safety’ grounds (when everyone with half a brain can tell it’s to force you to hire their crappy ones) yet seem to think jumping a road is acceptable. Nothing but hypocrites.

    • Haven’t had much to do with toboggans I must say. Do you know what the resort policy is elsewhere ie do the other major resorts in Australia make you hire theirs?

  3. Hotham had nothing to do with this. They only got a couple of hits before ski patrol shut it down. Few days later they got shut down again for building a booter out of bounds but in sight of lodges/accommodation. Hothams a joke for the progression in freestyle snow sports.

  4. Hey Glenn.

    just thought you might like to know the skier (my son) is only 16yrs old. Dug the jump with his mates in the dark overnite whilst dodging groomers and hit it at 7.40am while someone from resort management was trying to grab him. And yes his father is cautious but he has extensive training here and OS in freestyle skiing. Walk in the park for him.

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