It’s our custom to make it to Opening Weekend at Hotham each year, to celebrate and catch up with friends; and usually we arrive without expectations as you can be sorely disappointed.

Hotham Summit, Opening Weekend 2010

In 2008 we took photos standing outside Hotham Central without any snow in sight, and decided to take our celebrations down to Swift’s Creek to watch the legendary Lawnmower races. In 2009 we were greeted by fresh snowfall that provided for snow play and tobogganing. But this season, we were treated to what can only be called fabulous snow conditions.

Big D, Hotham Day #1, 2010

At the Hotham airport we were welcomed by snowflakes cascading through the air. We knew we were in for a treat! As we drove closer to the resort, snow was increasingly thick on the ground, and when we arrived at the Big D the lift was turning, and a great number of keen skiers and snowboarders were getting in early with lessons and having a great time. The discount Opening Weekend ticket prices were certainly providing a great incentive for families.

We reached Hotham Central to find the Summit trainer providing an excellent opportunity for beginners and those wishing for a gentle reintroduction to their snowsports. The day was cold, the temperatures around -3C, and with great visibility. The Upper Playground lift was also servicing Sun Run which provided a solid blue run for the more adventurous.

MHRS Boot Camp, 2010

When we arrived at the Mt Hotham Racing Squad hut we were greeted by an excited collection of kids ranging from the Heroes group aged 7 and up, to the FIS level skiers in their mid-teens. And for the duration of the weekend these young athletes gave their all in a variety of fun, entertaining and equally tough exercises and routines both on and off the snow. These included a variety of strength, flexibility, stability, speed and agility routines run inside, on the snow, and also wearing skis. They also had some great opportunities to complete early season on-snow ski drills which helped them find their ski legs again and build their focus. Fun highlights included a boxing match, tightrope walking and balancing tasks on Swiss balls.

Mt Hotham, Opening Weekend 2010

Saturday was a great chance for walking around Mt Hotham and beyond, and then on Sunday and Monday we ventured out for a ski on Sun Run to discover that the snow was really quite superb. A combination of expert snowmaking and perfectly timed natural snowfall had created a snow surface that I was quite convinced was better quality than anything I skied in my entire 2009 season (keep in mind my injury on 1 August cut my season short!).

Hopefully we’ll see the predicted dump later this week, adding to the fabulous ongoing snowmaking effort which has already created a very solid base and skiable surface. Rumour has it that this coming weekend we may see Slalom Gully opened with the Village Chair operating. The Basin and Slalom Gully already have terrific cover, so we’re just waiting for Swindler’s Trail, which runs from Snake Gully Hut to the Village Chair load, to fill in with snow.

While we were walking along the Great Alpine Road we watched a couple of trailers pass by, carrying Lawnmowers en route for Swift’s Creek … and we had a great laugh at the contrast to 2008.