Strange things are happening in Australia. Since Aussie Alisa Camplin twirled her way to Olympic Gold in the women's aerials at the Winter Olympics, the sun-loving nation has been heading for the hills-white ones covered in snow.
"It's like having a Swiss world surfing champion," says novice Aussie skier Mike Butler. "I guess it's our 'lets-have-a-go' mentality: It either puts us on the winner's stand or in an ambulance."
"Imagine the U.S. winning a cricket game against England," said Kim Clifford, general manager at Thredbo, a ski area about 300 miles southwest of Sydney. (Yeah, just imagine! Wait. What's cricket?)
Heavy early-season snowfall combined with cold temps in Sydney and leftover Salt Lake City fever has seen hundreds charging to the slopes for the first time. Visits to Perisher Blue Resort are up 33 percent this season, according to general manager Gary Grant. Australia's other 10 ski resorts, most of which opened in June or July, are reporting crowded car parks, long lift lines, and lots of beginner skiers. "Only an Australian can turn a green slope into an extreme run," says Butler.