Reflections from the 2010 Kangaroo Hoppet: Part 2 of 2
As the ski season Down Under heads into full swing, we are reaching back 10 years into the archives to share this 2010 update from Garrott Kuzzy, founder of Lumi Experiences Cross Country Ski Vacations. Lumi is offering trips to the 2024 Kangaroo Hoppet in Australia and Merino Muster in New Zealand. Sign up for the trips by September 30 and receive $300/person savings on each trip.
You may have heard the Kangaroo Hoppet was cancelled last weekend due to a warm forecast on race day. Conditions at higher elevations were good, but there wasn't quite enough snow for the stadium. Fortunately, the Worldloppet still offered the opportunity to ski the course and track it on Strava to earn a Worldloppet stamp, so many international skiers cruised around several loops to reach 42 km and earn their Worldloppet stamps for the Kangaroo Hoppet. Conditions look much more favorable for the Merino Muster in New Zealand this weekend! Stay tuned for more on that.
Back in 2010, Garrott traveled to Australia to train with the Australian National Team and participate in the Kangaroo Hoppet. Here is the story from his experience:-- September 2, 2010
sunshine streaming through the window. A bluebird day was the ideal backdrop to the 2010
Kangaroo Hoppet. Three feet of fresh powder had fallen on Falls Creek during the previous
week and was groomed to perfection under the starry night with the Southern Cross clearly
visible above, reminding me how far I was from home. Over 1000 skiers from around the world
toed the line for either the 42km Hoppet, 21km Australian Birkebeiner, or the 7km Joey Hoppet.
The cannon blasted at 9:30am and we were off. The field strung out quickly through what locals
appropriately call “Sun Valley.” The front runners took turns at the lead and by the time we came
through the first aid station at 7km, there was already a five-skier breakaway, including four-time
Hoppet champ Ben Sim, Continental Cup champ Callum Watson, Australian biathlete Alex
Almoukov, Swiss sprint Olympian Valerio Leccardi and yours truly.
Once we realized we had broken away from the field, the pace settled into a consistent cruise.
The local resort television station had a snowmobile documenting the race, making the race feel
that much more pro. The first 10km of the 21km loop are very flat, skirting around the Rocky
Valley Dam reservoir. The second half of the loop gets hilly, with a 6km constant V1 climb,
dubbed “the Paralyzer.” I took the lead up the Paralyzer and was treated to untracked corduroy
snaking up through the snow gum trees. Our little group stuck together over the high point and
back down through the lap.
On our second lap, the race got a little more interesting as we lapped hundreds of skiers
in the smaller races, darting through gaps and getting cheers from the folks we passed. There
was even a pair of beginners who, upon getting passed, called out with Australian accents, “Hey
fellas, mind stopping to give us a quick lesson?” Life is full of tough decisions.
Before I knew it, I was back with the pack and cruising up the Paralyzer for the second time—a
little faster than the first. Leccardi hammered over the top and split our little group into pieces.
Unfortunately, I was the caboose of the train and almost derailed on the fast descent. It was fun
slaloming past the lapped skiers, but the gap between me and the leaders kept getting bigger.
the Top-5. Skiers kept coming across the finish line for the next six hours. Among them was my dad, in Australia for the Hoppet—completing his 11 th Worldloppet marathon. We kicked back at
the finish line, soaking up the warm Australian sun in t-shirts, enjoying kangaroo burgers after
an exciting day at the races.
I have another week here Down Under and look forward to enjoying some more sun and ideal
winter conditions before heading home.