Ipswich skiing sensation claims gold for Queensland

The thermometer reads -2 on a bright morning as Mason Grunsell, a student at Ipswich’s Westside Christian College, pulls his ski goggles over his eyes on the slopes at Thredbo in New South Wales.

He is at the Northern New South Wales Interschool Snow Sports Competition.

Surrounding him are competitors from the ACT to NSW who know the snow, several from elite schools with dedicated skiing programs.

The red LED starter’s clock counts down. In a few moments he will do Queensland proud.

Mason looks like a typical skier; he’s tall, fit and has a perfect snow-kissed tan. Except, he’s a Queenslander, a state not known for its high-quality ski resorts.

“It doesn’t intimidate me. When you’re staring down the side of the mountain, the only thing you can think about is getting through those gates,” he said.

“It’s you and the clock.”

The interschool competition was Mason’s second, making his achievements of gold in alpine skiing and bronze in ski cross and moguls all the more impressive.

“The moguls ends with an aerobatic jump. Watching my line and length was tricky with so much beauty all around me,” he said.

“Time seemed to stand still. Thredbo is beautiful.”

The 14-year-old said is no stranger to winter sports, being a keen ice hockey player and having skied in Canada.

“The skiing there is a lot more challenging. The black courses there taught me not to be afraid,” he said.

“Queenslanders are the underdogs and I’m not afraid.”

His fearlessness will next be put to the test at nationals, which will be held from 1 to 9 September at Perisher.

“It’s an icy track, the best in Australia,” he said.

“There won’t be any chance to practice. This will be my third ever competition.”

International Ski Federation scouts will be watching the event.

“Hopefully this will be the start of something bigger. I just want to make my parents proud,” he said.

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