Wrap Up – SnowSports ACT Annual Awards

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Wrap Up – SnowSports ACT Annual Awards

Last night in the ACT, we awarded talented local athletes with financial scholarships and recognised our fantastic volunteers, coaches and supporters. Here is a list of the 2017 SnowSports ACT Annual Award Winners:

Athlete of the Year – Laura Peel

Junior Snowboarder of the Year – Male – Valentino Guseli

Junior Snowboarder of the Year – Female – Chelsee Kelley

Junior Cross Country Skier of the Year – Lara Essex

Cross Country Achievement Awards – Heli Laajoki, Brock Hughes

Junior Alpine Skier of the Year – Lara Agnew & Isabella Davis

Alpine Achievement Awards – Abbey Davis, Jacqueline Davis

Junior Freestyle Athlete of the Year – Lily Veleba

Freestyle Achievement Award – Elliot Young

Interschools Achievement Award – Max Juric

School of the Year – Canberra Grammar Junior

Cross Country Coach of the Year – Ashleigh Spittle

Master Athlete of the Year – Zac Zaharias

Volunteer of the Year – Andrew Herring, Phil Bell


SnowSports ACT also awarded the winners of the Perisher – ACT Interschools Scholarship program. We thank Perisher on their support of our up and coming local athletes, who receive either a Perisher Season Pass or Winter Sports Club Training.

SnowSports ACT will be announcing a similar scholarship program with Thredbo very soon!

2018 Perisher – ACT Interschools Scholarship Winners:

Gus Young

Amber Essex

Kasey Kelley

Alec Bell

Bella Rotondo


Photo Credit to Jonathan Mandl!


Laura Peel is a worthy winner of Athlete of the Year having competed on the Aerials World Cup circuit in 2016/2017. In her first competition back after a season off with an injury, Laura placed 3rd in a Europa Cup in Ruka Finalnd. She went on to compete in 7 World Cups and placed 3rd in the final World Cup in Moscow in March and after which she was ranked 6th in the World.

Previous World Champion, Laura is known as the current most consistent World Cup Aerial Skier on the Australian Team with 35 World Cup starts, in which she has placed in the top 12 in 12 out of 31 and mostly in the top 6.

Laura competed in the World Championships in Sierra Nevada Spain in March 2017. During the qualification round she was placed 2nd. In the finals she placed 8th overall. Laura is now preparing to compete in her second Olympics, which are in PyeongChang, Korea in February 2018.

The ACT has many talented junior snowboard athletes with Valentino Guseli being award Junior Male Snowboarder of the Year and Chelsee Kelley Junior Female Snowboarder of the Year.

Valentino had another great year placing 2nd in the US Open Halfpipe Junior Jam in Vail. He went on to yet again win the Overall US Champion at the USA National Championships in April in Copper in his age category after winning the snowboard giant slalom, halfpipe and slopestyle. Back home at the Australian Jnr Freeride Championships, Valentino placed 1st in the Slopestyle, Snowboard Cross and Halfpipe. In the Transfer Banked Slalom at Thredbo, Valentino was 1st in Grom Boys. Valentino was also 1st in all of his Interschools events.

At just 10 years of age Chelsee has achieved quite a lot so far in her snowboard career. In April she competed in the USA National Championships and was awarded US Overall Champion in Grommet Girls (8-9 years) with a 1st in Slopestyle, BoarderX, GS and Slalom and 5th in Halfpipe.

Chelsee was one of 5 (and the only female) to be selected for SSA’s Emerging Talent Scholarship (ETS) intake for park and pipe snowboarding, having been identified as having the capability of contributing to Australia’s international snow sport success in the future.  Chelsee undertook a full time program this winter.

This allowed her to compete in many events over the season. She was 3rd overall in the Thredbo Snow Series in the 13 years and under age category with a end in the Rail Jam, 7th in Ridercross, 3rd in the Slopestyle, 2nd in the Big Air. Chelsee was 1st in the all her Interschoole events in Division 5 at the ACT-Southern NSW and Australian Championships. At the Australian Jnr Freeride Championships, Chelsee was 2nd in the  Slopestyle, 1st Snowboard Cross and Halfpipe. In the Transfer Banked Slalom at Thredbo, Chelsee was 1st in Grom Girls.

Junior Cross Country Skier of the Year went to Lara Essex who placed 2nd in the U14 Australian Junior Sprint Championships and 2nd in the Distance event. Lara was 2nd at the Australian Interschools Championships in the Division 3 Cross Country Classic.

The Cross Country Achievement Awards went to Heli Laajoki and Brock Hughes. Heli had an impressive season including a 2nd in the U14 ACT Distance Championships, 3rd in U14 Australian Junior Sprint Championships and 3rd in the Distance event, 1st U14 in the Snowy Mountains Classic, 12th  and 1st in Division 4 Cross Country Classic at the Australian Interschools Championships.

Brock has been part of the ACTXC squad for 2 years and participates in all training and racing enthusiastically. He consistently comes to dryland and on-snow training. His technique, strength and fitness have improved a lot over this time. During the 2017 winter Brock went in almost all events on offer, including the NSW sprint championships, ACT distance championships and two of the Australian open championships races, and had some strong performances.  In between training and racing, the xc skiing community enjoy seeing and chatting with Brock in the Nordic Shelter.

The ACT has many talented alpine athletes are our top skiers Lara Agnew and Isabella Davis were jointly awarded Junior Alpine Skier of the Year. Both girls are a members of the Australian Children’s and NSWACT Alpine teams.

Although most of the SSA Alpine Children’s series races were cancelled this season Lara placed 3rd in the U16 Slalom and 2nd in the Skier X  and finished the season, ranked 4thin Australian in her age group. At the ACT-Southern NSW Interschools Championships, Lara was 1st in both the Alpine and Skier Cross in Division 2. Isabella competed in a FIS Children’s Race in Slovakia placing 18th in the GS and 24th in the SL. Isabella was 1st in the Redlands Cup, 2nd in the Thredbo Cup GS and 2nd in the SL. 2nd in the only GS held at the Australian Children’s series.

Abbey & Jacqueline Davis were awarded Alpine Achievement Awards. Abbey finished the season ranked 1st in her year of birth group. At the TSRC Cup, Abbey placed 2nd in the SL and 1st in the GS. At Interschools, Abbey was 1st in the Alpine for Division 4 at the ACT-Southern NSW Interschools Champs and the Redlands Cup. At the Australian Interschools Champs, Abbey placed 2nd in the Alpine and Skier X. Jacqueline raced with the Australian Children’s Team and competed in her first International race in Slovakia during the last Northern season. Locally, JJ was 3rd in the SL in the SSA Children’s series and finished the season ranked 4th overall for U14 in Australia.  At the TSRC Cup, JJ was 1st in the GS and 2nd in the SL.  At Interschools, JJ was 2nd in both the Alpine and Skier X at the ACT-Southern NSW Champs and 2nd in the Alpine at the Australian Interschools Championships in Division 3.

Junior Freestyle Skier of the Year went to Lily Veleba who had a fantastic moguls season with a 2nd in the U14 NSW Freestyle Junior Series at Thredbo, 1st in the U14 NSW Freestyle Junior Series at Perisher and 1st in the duals event, 1st in the ABOM Mogul Challenge and 3rd in the Division 3 Moguls at the Australian Interschools Championships.

Elliot Young received a Freestyle Achievement Award who had 2 second places in the NSW Junior Series, in the singles and duals. Elliot was 2nd in the Moguls at the ACT-Southern NSW Interschools Championships. Unfortunately Elliot’s season was cut short by an accident while competing in the Australian Moguls Championships.

Max Juric was a deserving winner of the Interschools Achievement Award. Max had a breakout season in Division 5 with 2 first places in both Alpine and Skier X at the ACT-Southern NSW Interschools Champs, 1st in the Redlands Cup, 1st in the Alpine at the Australian Interschools Championships and 3rd in the Skier X. Max won a school award at Cannberra Grammar for the best skier in the Primary school.

Canberra Grammar Junior School was awarded School of the Year and continues to show great interest in Snowsports competition. In 2017, they continued to build their community through the actions of the Snowsports Network through quite a few initiatives. Through their Facebook page, parents have also been able to share news, accommodation and travel throughout the season. The school runs a Snowfit program in Term 2 and introduced Kindergarten and Year 1 students to the sport through the Little Shredders Program. At the ACT-Southern NSW Interschools Champs, the school entered 130 entries by 55 students. They recorded some excellent results with 12 team medals and 9 individual medals. The school entered a record number of entries into the Australian Championships and won 3 Team medals and 3 individual medals.

Cross Country Coach of the Year went to Ashleigh Spittle who has been coaching the ACTXC team having moved to Canberra for her Uni studies. Ash also coached the roller skiing program at 2 schools this year and a couple of sessions for the Canberra Grammar Snowfit program. We are lucky to have Ash’s coaching our junior cross-country skiers.

The are many active Master athletes in the ACT and this year we recognised Zac Zaharias as Master Athlete of the Year. Zac competed in the Nordic Masters World Cup in Klosters, Switerland in March. He competed in 3 individuals events and the relay.

SnowSports ACT has manyhard workign volunteers behind the scenes helping at our events and promoting the sport within their school, clubs and community. We recognised Andrew Herring and Phil Bell for their efforts in 2017. Andrew has consistently volunteered for duties at the Interschools Championships for the past few years as a Radford College volunteer. Andrew underwent training this season to further his training as a chief volunteer. He is a very valuable and hard working volunteer. Phil has been tireless in his support of snowsports at Canberra Grammar this year, and for the last few years, and has supported the school through many initiatives. He has headed the Parents Network – a communication Network that helps families access the snow, sharing information on accommodation, travel, competition, equipment etc, which has been particularly helpful for new families. Phil also ran a fundraising event at the school fete – ‘snowspuds’, where he raised money for the school program. He also arranged tickets for the Warren Miller film screening, raising further funds for the program.



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