The Awards bring together prominent members of the Snowsports industry, including Australia's best winter athletes and coaches, resorts, media and the snow sports retail sector.
Over the past 20 years, the Award for Athlete of the Year has gone to the likes of Olympic gold medalists Lydia Lassila, Torah Bright, Alisa Camplin and Dale Begg-Smith, as well as other outstanding athletes who have dominated international competition such as Zali Steggall, Jacqui Cooper and Alex Pullin.
This year, nine athletes are nominated for the top award. Mogul skier Matt Graham had his breakthrough season in 2015/16, winning three World Cup medals including one gold. The 2014 Winter Olympian finished second on the overall World Cup rankings. Also finishing second on World Cup rankings this season was aerial skier Danielle Scott. The 26-year-old made the Super Final in five out of six events and won two silver medals. Still in freestyle skiing, Russ Henshaw is nominated for his two near podium finishes in slopestyle on the World Cup and Grand Prix circuit.
In snowboard slopestyle, rising star Jess Rich showed she is one to watch when she took out the esteemed Mile High event in 2015. The challenging conditions and depth of the field of competitors saw Rich fly into the top 20 on the World Rankings and she went on to post two top 10 finishes in World Cups. Scotty James is nominated for his X Games bronze medal in snowboard halfpipe, and he also placed seventh in the US Open. James’ Olympic teammate Belle Brockhoff had her snowboard cross World Cup breakthrough this season, winning one gold and two silver medals and finishing third overall.
In ski cross, Sami Kennedy-Sim is finding form, with four top 10 World Cup finishes throughout the season, her best result being sixth. In the other alpine skiing disciplines, Dominic Demschar had a strong season, finishing 14th in giant slalom on the ANC Overall standings as well as 28th in giant slalom on the NorAm overall standings.
In cross country skiing, Phillip Bellingham won three Australian titles, placed third in the Estonian Sprint Championships and recorded a best World Cup result of 49th out of 100 in the Lenzerheide Sprint as well as 46th out of 83 in the Quebec Sprint.
The Award for Junior Athlete of the Year has seen athletes such as Greta Small and Britteny Cox lauded for their exceptional achievements at a young age. In 2016 there are eight nominees from the disciplines of alpine skiing, ski cross and cross country.
Snowboarders Alex Dickson (snowboard cross) and Emily Arthur (halfpipe) both had a breakthrough season winning silver medals at the 2016 Youth Olympic Games (YOG) in Lillehammer. Arthur had the honour of carrying the Australian flag in the opening ceremony and earlier in the season posted a career best ninth at the World Cup in Cardrona. Mahalah Mullins also competed at the YOG, placing fifth in the snowboard slopestyle and is nominated along with Christian De Oliveira (parallel giant slalom) who was 14th at the Junior World Championships in Slovenia.
Zali Offord won silver in ski cross at the YOG, earning her nomination for the top junior award. Also an accomplished alpine racer, Offord also recorded a top 15 result at the European Championships as well as second overall in the ANC. Alpine skier Alec Scott is nominated for his results including sixth at a European FIS event (20.43 FIS Points).
It was a breakthrough season for Victoria’s Katerina Paul. The teenager was 46th in the Classic Sprint at the World Junior Championships in Romania. She recorded the best percentage of field result by an Australian since 2003 and also won the Australian Junior Championships and the Open Australian Championship.
In moguls, Jakara Anthony is also nominated for the Junior Award after finishing fourth at the Australian National Championships and third at the ABOM. She also secured three podium finishes, including one victory, at US selection events.
This year, the night will see a new category awarded - Para-Athlete of the Year. Managed by the Australian Paralympic Committee since 1994, Ski and Snowboard Australia took carriage of the Para-Winter sports program in November 2015.
One of the stand-out performers of the season was Mitch Gourley who had his best ever World Cup Para-Alpine season winning five medals at the BME World Cup Finals (3 silver, 2 bronze); 9 x World Cup medals (6 silver, 3 bronze) and ended the season ranked top three in the World Cup standings in DH, GS, SG and third World Cup overall. Gourley is nominated alongside Para-Snowboarder Simon Patmore who won two silver medals at BME World Cup, one gold and one silver at World Cup Finals as well as four World Cup medals. Patmore ended the season ranked fourth in the World Cup Para-Snowboard Cross standings and fifth in Para-Slalom.
Other awards include Coach of the Year; Development Coach of the Year; Rising Star – designed to identify future stars of Australian Snowsports; and the Outstanding Achievement award – highlighting an outstanding achievement by an individual athlete, team or program.
Pictured above (L-R) Alex Pullin, Russ Henshaw, Britt Cox, Laura Peel and Scotty James at the 2015 Australian Ski & Snowboard Awards
2016 AUSTRALIAN SKI & SNOWBOARD AWARDS
Venue: MAIA, Shed 14, Central Pier, 151 Harbour Esplanade, Docklands, Melbourne
Date: Thursday 28 April 2016
Time: 7pm – 10pm
Dress: Lounge Suit
Tickets: Available Here
View images from the 2015 Australian Ski & Snowboard Awards here