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Marg wins gold

By Justin Jenvey

Posted 1 Aug 2019

Mount Hotham Racing Squad’s oldest member is proving that age is no barrier when it comes to what you can achieve on skis.

Marg Franke-Williams didn’t start ski racing until her mid-30s and now at the age of 70 her ability and love for the sport remains as high as ever.

Considered somewhat of a legend on the Australian Masters circuit, Marg has dominated across every age category for more than three decades now.

Just last week she added to her impressive list of accolades, collecting a gold in Giant Slalom and silver in Super G at the Thredbo Masters.

“I just love putting the boards on and going down the hill,” Marg says enthusiastically.

“My brother and sister started skiing at Mt Buller and then when I was about 14 or 15 my parents insisted that I go up there with them every weekend.”

Catching the racing bug 

Marg did so hesitantly; horse riding was her passion as a teenager while she even raced a Sydney to Hobart yacht race before her introduction to ski racing in 1979 when working for Trans Australia Airlines.

“The airlines used to have their own racing circuit that took place in the northern hemisphere, so my first race was in Alaska through that,” she said.

“I snow-ploughed down the course as I’d never been on one, missed the last gate and was disqualified but I thought it was so much fun and have now been racing ever since.”

Growing up in Melbourne and later moving to Mansfield where she still resides, Marg has spent much of her life skiing at Mt Buller.

However, the 2015 winter saw Marg switch resorts to take advantage of teamHOTHAM’s Masters program where she has become well-known not only in racing circles but across the mountain.

“I’ve been here five years now and everyone says, ‘Hi Marg' and stops for a chat’,” she explains.

“You get to know everyone, but it has also been great joining Pegasus Alpine Club…I love that Hotham has all its lodges, it’s a great atmosphere and for familes, kids learn to live with others.”

Hotham Masters squad

Marg and 11 other Masters skiers train with the Racing Squad from Thursday through to Sunday under the guidance of French-Canadian coach Simon Gagnon.

Simon says one of the great things about teamHOTHAM’s Masters program is the combination of experienced skiers and those that are new to race training and competing.  

“The mix of the group from people that have been racing for many years to those who have never touched racing but join because their kids are involved, it makes for a nice chemistry,” Simon said.

“I coached kids before the Masters and the thing is no matter what age a skier is, the reaction is the same when they manage to achieve a turn shape or a little action they’ve been searching for.

“Our motto is ‘creating tomorrow’s champions today’ and that’s certainly the case no matter what the age.”

As for Marg, Simon says she is quite the inspiration as she continues to defy age limits in a sport and pastime where many people have well and truly hung up their boots by the time they reach 70.

“Racing at 70 is pretty impressive, if I can still ski by 60 I’ll be pretty stoked,” he said.

Taking on the world’s best

Marg will be one of the oldest skiers of a 14-member Australian team that heads to Innsbruck, Austria in January 2020 for the Winter World Masters Games.

The event will be Marg’s second major World Masters event after performing well against a large international field in Slovenia in 2010.

“Apart from the two Austrian born and bred skiers in the team I got the next best result by an Australian last time,” she said.

In preparation for Innsbruck Marg has been doing dryland training three times a week for the past eight months consisting of intensive weightlifting, running and swimming.

“I’m pretty competitive, my first aim is to finish each race, but obviously finish as high as I can too.”

 

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I’m pretty competitive, my first aim is to finish each race, but obviously finish as high as I can too

Marg Franke-Williams