Compiled and written by Elizabeth Barker, Club Secretary 1993 – 1999.
The founding fathers of the TSRC met at Sasha’s Apartments on the 2nd of January, 1972, to inaugurate the Thredbo Ski Racing Club. Their aim was to encourage ski racing and ski training at Thredbo, as similar moves had already been made at Smiggin Holes and Falls Creek. The number of training members started at eleven, although many more had sought to train and had failed to meet a sufficient standard of expertise. Training members quickly rose to 30 over the next few years.
By 1975, the club had been delegated to run the NSW Alpine Championships and the NSW Junior Championships. Training for members in the European winters was soon introduced and these trips were arranged and attended with much enthusiasm. Although many members were locally based, other members reminisce about the arduous return trip to Sydney, up and over the Razorback Mountain on the old Hume Hwy, each weekend.
Members David Griff and Kim Clifford (now Resort Operations Manager of Kosciusko Thredbo Pty Ltd) were selected to race at the 1976 Winter Olympics at Innsbruck. Later Jacqui Cowderoy was selected to join this elite band of training members who have represented their country at Winter Olympic Games. They have now been joined on the Honour Board by Paralympians Michael Milton and Rod Hacon.
A clubhouse was desperately needed and in 1976, members moved into the old Bank of NSW premises in the village. It was a temporary measure while serious negotiations continued with the resort and the Parks Department. After plans to locate adjacent to the Merrits Chairlift fell through, the present site at the base of the Ramshead Chairlift was approved by all parties. A building committee was set up under the direction of Otmar Dorfer (now an FIS Technical Delegate of many years standing and Life Member of the TSRC). By 1997 the building was 80% completed by members and other contributors working in “heavy snow, driving rain, freezing winds, mud and water”. Funding came in part from a grant obtained from the NSW Government, negotiated by Kurt Lance (also an FIS Technical Delegate). The Clubhouse has been refurbished and altered to meet existing needs from time to time, renovations being carried out immediately prior to the 1997 and 1998 training seasons under the supervision of immediate Past-President Tony Reynolds and more recently (2010-2012) under the supervision of Club Captain BJ Kaufmehl and President Steven Weeks.
During the 1980’s the club continued to grow, some seasons were good and some poor. In 1983 there were 60 training members. A Trophy Case and the Honour Boards were commissioned. One, sadly commemorates the death of brilliant young skier David Studley, tragically killed in a motor vehicle accident. Several of the trophies extend back before the foundation of the TSRC and are not only very beautiful but historically valuable. Since then various perpetual trophies have been donated and are awarded each year according to set criteria. Encouragement trophies are also awarded annually.
1984 saw the introduction of the “new” rapid stiff spring gates. 1985 began with promising snowfalls and a Downhill race was planned but later abandoned when the season did not live up to its early promise.
In the early 1980’s, the European trips were infrequently arranged but in 1987 they resumed. Meanwhile the Sydney Ski Sale, organised annually by the committee, with the assistance of members, became a major fund-raiser and would remain so for many years. Unfortunately, trends in the industry changed and it was finally abandoned in the early 1990’s. Life member Annette Sturt worked over many years building the Ski Sale into an important event on the ski calendar.
The highlight of the 1989 season was the running of a World Cup by the Club at Thredbo. The snow conditions had been poor but nevertheless a brilliant course was provided by Kosciusko Thredbo Pty Ltd and the event proceeded professionally and smoothly. Laurie Rose, Club Captain at the time, still continues to come out of the woodwork to lend valuable assistance on race days.
Sponsorship over the years has at times been generously given – firstly and most consistently Kosciusko Thredbo Pty Ltd, but also from Coca-Cola, Subaru, Ansell, Telecom and more recently Sentinel and Fujitsu. This year One-Tel has provided great support with the use of an 11 seater bus for the winter season (a bus was first placed on the club’s wish list in 1988), racing equipment including gates, flags and bunting plus the provision of scholarships Australia wide for promising young athletes.
Over the years the club has maintained its strict allegiance to the Alpine discipline, rejecting temptations to train high profile freestylers and snowboarders. The odd snowboard has, however, appeared in the clubhouse from time to time and training members have sometimes been seduced by alternate snow sports.
Sophisticated electronic timing equipment and computer software have played a part in the increasing professionalism that is shown in running ski races. Ultimately, however, the Club’s most vital resource has been and will continue to be the members who are prepared to to be out on the hill in all conditions to ensure these events happen. In the office, the race secretary has a highly pressured role, particularly during FIS week when records are required in Europe almost immediately after the race conclusion. In the recent past this position has been filled by Verona Clarke, Jill Lane, Suzanne Lunney and is now held by Christine Stevens.
Parents of training members are encouraged to come forward at an early stage to learn the various roles in race organisation. These are suited to a wide range of aptitudes including electronic ability, skiing ability, organisational ability etc. It seems fair to say that one can never fully understand the sport of ski racing without gaining insights that can only be achieved by participation in the actual organisation of events. It takes a minimum of 25 people to run an ASF race and many more for FIS events.
The club has strived for consistency in coaching over the years. Generally we have been fortunate, not only in obtaining coaches of the highest level of training and ability, but many have also been able to serve as role models for the athletes. These have been prepared to return time and time again to our uncertain Australian winters. In recent years Manfred Wolscher has admirably combined all these attributes as well as succeeding in such “extra curricular” activities as the “Top to Bottom” at Thredbo and the “Dash for Cash” at Perisher Valley. Both Manfred and ex-coach Rupert Winkler have settled in Australia, continuing to maintain links to our club. Of course, we have had Australian coaches, too, excellent ones including ex-training member Mason Lane.
Our sense of identity is reinforced by the training members’ uniform. Over the years this has been in many styles and colours. In the early 1990’s, the previous aqua Spyder uniforms were replaced by the current distinctive red and black model. As a result our groups are highly visible on the mountain either at home in Thredbo or at other resorts in Australia and overseas. Helmets, too, were made compulsory at about this time following the death of an Austrian ski racer, with subsequent changes to FIS and ASF rulings.
The latter part of the 1990’s saw another major technical shift in boot and ski technology. The current racers have technological benefits never dreamed of in the 1970’s or1980’s. As a result, however, the athletes are required to tune, maintain and house more skis than ever before and this has put increasing pressure on space in the clubhouse. The situation was resolved to some extent with a system introduced and arranged by BJ Kaufmehl. “New” ex-Royal Canberra Golf Club lockers were installed as a result of the generous donation of long standing member Doug Mackie.
The Club was incorporated in 1988 and the Memorandum and Articles of Association are available online from ASIC. Any member unable to access this and wishing to inspect a copy should make an appropriate request to the committee.
Over the years, people too numerous to mention have contributed their time and effort to the club and without their efforts, the club would not be what it is today. Once again it must be reiterated that without the assistance of the members, the club would not be able to operate as successfully as it does. Our sincere thanks go out to all the people who have given their time and effort so generously since the inauguration of our club.
Note: This brief summary has been compiled by Elizabeth Barker. Your contributions to updating and maintaining this brief history will be most welcome.