The Good, The Bad & The Opening Weekend

In the face of adversity, the Australian Snowboarder thrives. That’s what this weekend is about.

Being able to snowboard on the June long weekend shouldn’t be a given. But we’ve been groomed to believe we’re entitled to turns at this time of year. Resort Marketing antics have had us fizzing from those more fruitful Winter starts, but this year and across the board, there’s a change in tone.

It’s refreshing to hear the resorts own up to the lack of coverage, despite their commendable efforts to accommodate our considerably unrealistic expectations of snowboarding every year at this time. It’s grounding and sets us up well to understand that the Australian Winter is best embraced as it comes. There will be no doubt epic days to come, there ALWAYS is. But this weekend will not be ‘epic’ but for those willing to embrace it, fun awaits. So let’s look at the state-of-play …

Bourke St, Mt Buller 06/06/24. Handplant opportunity sighted.

De-bunking the (remaining) Hype

Mountain marketing departments are all quite on the western front this week, with each making reference to ‘Mother Nature’ somewhere in their rationale. It’s fair play, with most resorts unable to stockpile enough man-made snow in time, we’ve seen official resort heads come out issuing offical statements about the short comings. As the world’s leading nation on producing the artificial white stuff, we almost feel empathetic but the lift ticket prices keep our feelings in check.

While the media are lapping up the low-tide conditions, using as an opportunity to denounce the viability of the Australian Snow Season – they’ll be the first ones to jump on the bandwagon when the going gets good again. Nate knows this …

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So, Who’s got What?

We’ll start with the big guy. We pressed Perisher Parks to spill the beans on the exact setup for the weekend, however understandably they wanted to keep things low-key – taking a ‘seeing what’s possible’ approach. However, history tells us that no crew can make minimal-snow-maximum-fun like Perisher parks. Sadists in a way, seemingly enjoying a botched coverage so that they can defy what’s assumed and build an entertaining setup in the face of absolute pessimism.

Thredbo’s offering up Friday Flat, which compared to Perisher would be the pick for beginners. The only other contender in this space will be over at Mt Buller, where Bourke Street will be open for those looking to take part in the scramble for turns. It’ll be a blood bath that’ll have you at least turning. Over at Falls, a low-key rail jam is being offered up in the plaza, thanks to Board Lounge’s initiative to get people strapping in at this time of year.

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Return to the Hike.

Lifted access across the resorts is pretty well null. A conveyor belt here, a chair there. A stacked line in each. The best fun will be found on foot, so if you’re heading up, do so with the intent to hike. While we’d entertain the concept of poaching, in this day and age of electronic ticket turnstiles – the possibility is pretty well shot. However, don’t let that stop you.

The things you’d hike, given the chance to Snowboard. Something we should ALL embrace.

Selling in the Apres

Apres is a word that sends shivers down a core lord’s spine. Yet synonymous with opening weekend, particularly when it’s low tide and the hype needs to be sustained. Every major Australian resort is promising some kind of festivities, if these Gatsby-esk partakings’ are your thing, then this opening weekend is your Woodstock. 

Our kinda low-tide ‘Apres’. Mt Buller’s Wallriders Crew, Circa ’93

The grass isn’t Greener (but it’s showing)

You think NZ is fairing better for opening weekend? Think again, because right now Cardies looks no better than the Aus resorts, with their notable pre-season coverage coming under siege from Rainfall. It’s a bitter-sweet reality, had NZ resorts had favourable conditions we’d be no doubt suffering from crippling FOMO however this year is not the case. 

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Will it be worth your Money?

If you’re a season pass holder, who’s either in town or en route then this weekend presents an opportunity to snowboard. The need to satisfy that desire will range among us, so let’s not write of the opening weekend’s ability to stoke us out. For those looking to make an impromptu trip, and fork out the necessary cost to do so – expecting to be rewarded for their stoic efforts, you won’t be – but that doesn’t mean you won’t have fun.

While the 2024 opening weekend might be a lean one at that, the fact is, that in the unlikeliest country to have snow the very opportunity to snowboard has presented itself, and who are we to advise against that. In fact, we’re already looking forward to seeing the heaters being delivered on the fresh new perisher rails. 

Long live opening weekend, even in the face of adversity. That is where the Australian snowboarder thrives. Take a leaf out of the low-tide kings book – Andy James:

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