On New Year’s Day we took the opportunity to have a Skiway to Station Ski/Walk/Run event. It was a good turnout, breaking previous records with 33 participants and four crew.
The wind was breezy, the sky was mostly cloudy. Perfect weather for the day! Station photographers Barry and Brenden did a fantastic job of herding eager cats to snap a great team photo in view of the Basler and Twin Otter aircrafts parked at the Skiway. Then it was all on for the finish line …
Antarctica is about international collaboration. We have teams and individuals from many parts of the world at Casey, it’s one of the things that makes living and working here so special.
However, today things were different. Here on the A-Line, international collaboration was put on pause: it was all about who would finish first, get bragging rights and their name engraved on the Skiway to Station trophy boot!
Most of the Canadians flew off into the distance never to be seen again. Skiers were either concentrating on their lines down the hill, or on staying upright! Runners were trying to keep up with the skiers. Soft starting conditions ensured they were working hard to gain back a place. Walkers took their time, enjoying good conversation along the way.
In the final moments, a French-Canadian expert skier was in the lead with 2 km to go but fell onto the soft snow at the low point of the A-Line. Seeing the gap open, an Australian-American pushed in front with the chance he was given. Two other Canadians were in hot pursuit – their day jobs are to fly planes with skis but at this moment it was all about making the skis on their legs fly. An Australian elite runner was also in range and sensed that if he pushed just a little bit harder, the podium might be within grasp.
The Aussie-American skier wanted the prize the most, arriving at Penguin Pass five leopard-seal-lengths ahead of the rest. Second and third places went to the Canuck pilots, fourth to the Aussie runner and fifth to the somewhat ego-bruised francophone on skis. A Taswegian/Swede, who normally skis at the back and ensures everyone is safe, crossed the finish line in sixth. Immediately, he called in on his radio: “VNJ Casey, first oldie back on station.” Today, he was going for it!
The midfield cohort was all about finishing with the least bruises. Our Kiwi Field Training Officer skied with them and gave coaching to the newer skiers in the pack. A Hägglunds vehicle was parked at the top of the hill, in position to retrieve worn out skiers. Thankfully, the carnage was nil due to racers making the wise decision to transfer to walking boots on the steep parts.
All in all, it was a great day to be out enjoying the classic Casey recreation. As always, the big event would not have been possible without the drivers of the vehicles and our on-station support.
Happy New Year's to all and here's to a fantastic 2022!!
- Casey Social Committee