With the snowy mountains not so snowy anymore, the lifts at Thredbo are firing back up as the 2021/2022 riding season kicks off. Delayed a week thanks to a blanket of fresh snow, the trails open on 26 November 2021, and will stay open until 25 April 2022.
Through mud season, the trail crews have been busy tidying up after winter, and even putting in a brand new trail. The NSW alpine is going to be buzzing this summer, and it won’t just be from spinning freehubs.
Read on for details about the return of the Cannonball Festival, gondola uplifts, a new beginner-friendly descending trail, and what else is happening this summer at Thredbo.
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All aboard the gondola!
Thredbo was the first resort in Australia to ferry riders up the mountain using its Kozi Express and Gunbarrel chairlifts, and now we can add the new Merritts Gondola to that equation.
The gondola has been spinning since 2020, but this summer will be the first time mountain bikers can be whisked 298-vertical-metres up the mountain in about six minutes. The top station is right next to Merritts Mountain House and allows for easy access to the lower half of the All-Mountain Trail.
For the 2021/2022 riding season, a day ticket will cost $89 for access to the lifts and gondola, while you can save up to 15-per cent if you book multi-day passes for a week or more.
The Merrits Gondola will also provide access to a brand new beginner gravity trail called Sidewinder. Taking riders 2.7km down the mountain, Sidewinder contours across the resort, before returning into Friday Flat or the Valley Terminal.
Up until now, Thredbo’s ~35km of lift access trails have been tilted more towards intermediate and advanced riders; now, folks who are just getting into mountain biking or building up confidence can enjoy gravity-fueled shredding in the alpine.
“It’s really exciting to be able to offer options for all levels of gravity mountain bikers this summer. The trail is a machine-built flow trail that will take riders on a roller coaster-like experience, requiring little pedalling and braking. The trail features deep flowing berms, rolling terrain and some small features to test your skills,” said Tim Windshuttle, Thredbo’s MTB Business Manager.
Cannonball is back!
After a two-year hiatus, Cannonball is back and bigger than ever. The Cannonball MTB Festival Presented by Boost Mobile runs from 8-12 February 2022, with five gravity inspired events and a prize purse worth over $100,000 AUD.
“After not being able to hold the festival last year, riders and fans have never been so keen to get to Thredbo and join the biggest mountain bike festival in Australia. For 2022 we have enhanced the schedule to ensure a more structured event to cater for the 1000+ riders expected to descend on Thredbo. Cannonball has and always will be for the riders and with the biggest names in the sport now confirmed to be attending it is set to be a massive week,” says Windshuttle.
Cannonball provides a unique opportunity for Australia’s Best gravity athletes to compete in events in which they excel, and some they aren’t quite as good at in pursuit of the King and Queen of Cannonball — we hear Sian A’Hern will be back to defend her crown for the fourth time and that Troy Brosnan will be chasing his chance for alpine royalty. But it’s not just an event for elite racers, with categories ranging from under 13’s to over 50’s across every event, Cannonball has something for everyone.
Of course, it’s not just about the riding, and Cannonball wouldn’t be Cannonball without live music and plenty of time spent on the dance floor.
Cannonball kicks off on Wednesday, 9 February, with the Osprey All-Mountain Assault, where riders will race from the top of the Gunbarrel Express, a gruelling 7km to the bottom of the All-Mountain Trail.
Over the next two days (10-11 Feb) riders will point their attention towards the Kosciuszko Flow Trail for the Fox Flow Mountain Cup. Following a similar format to the race the day before, the Fox Flow Mountain Cup is all about maintaining speed, and harvesting every bit of kinetic energy out of the bermed corners and rolling traverses on the 5km run to the base area.
Once those pumping legs are nice and warm, head down to the Village Green for the RockShox Pump Track Challenge on 11 February. Riders will compete head to head, with qualifying in the morning, and finals racing action under the lights.
The infamous Cannonball DH is back on Saturday, 12 February and boasts the largest prize cache of any DH in Australia. The Oakley Australian Open Downhill will see riders tackle the infamous Cannonball Run the old school way, meaning the course will include the upper fire road, ensuring riders have hit warp speed by the time they hit the rocky chutes, techy rootballs and moon booters.
Hot on the heels of the DH race, the Cannonball Festival wraps up with the Deity Whip Wars on Saturday afternoon. The invite-only event will take place on the super booter amid the event village, where riders will see how far past 90-degrees they can send their rear wheel, and still bring it back. This one is always a crowd-pleaser!
Thredbo Gravity Series and other events
Starting in December, Thredbo will be hosting a six-event Gravity series. Each race will combine a creative mix of the resort’s main gravity trails, with riders chasing points and racing for the overall series championship.
There’s also plenty to do off the bike, ranging from a guided hike during the Geminids Meteor Shower, to a monthly concert series at Merritts Music Bowl, the Kids Adventure Festival and more.
Bike school is in session
Thredbo has one of the oldest ski schools in Australia, and this summer will add the green season equivalent with the new MTB school.
Run by certified MTB instructors, the bike school will offer clinics ranging from beginner level, learn to ride classes, up to advanced gravity clinics for riders to tune up their skills. Thredbo is also offering specialty programs like MTB School Holiday Camps, Gravity Girls and a development squad.
The classes are designed for riders 7-years and older, a two-hour beginner lesson starts at $49, while the intermediate and advanced clinics cost $79.
If you’re travelling by air and don’t want to lug a bike bag, or are keen to try something with a bit more travel, Thredbo has a huge rental fleet with the latest enduro and DH rigs from Norco, e-Bikes, recreational mountain bikes, protective gear and more.
For more info, to register for an event or pre-book your lift pass, head over to the Thredbo Website.