Committed troops keep ski race afloat

WITHOUT the contributions of volunteers, Sunraysia's renowned Mildura 100 Ski Race would cease to exist according to former president turned volunteer Keith Thomson.

From organising half time entertainment and the PA system, to arranging for ambulances to be on standby, booking security and collecting admission at the gates, volunteers carry out around 95 percent of the work leading up to and during the famous race weekend.

"The infrastructure we bring in is intense, we're in charge of co-ordinating nearly every aspect of the event including arranging helicopters to come up from Melbourne," said Mr Thomson.

"The whole race hangs on volunteers, which is why it's vitally important that people continue to volunteer a bit of their time to help out with the event," he said.

In previous years the generosity of the community has shone through, with businesses and individuals offering their equipment and services over the weekend.

"Two years when the river flooded, and access to Wickets Point was blocked, someone actually volunteered their house boat for the judges to use, that's volunteering at its best," he said.

While volunteers are invaluable to the success of the event, it's increasingly difficult to secure the number needed.

"There are 12 positions up the river that people have to man with a boat," said Mr Thomson. 

"So most of those people volunteer themselves and their boat for Saturday and Sunday and we pay them fuel money only. 

"But every year we struggle to fill those positions, we really, really struggle.

"A lot of our volunteers are older, so soon we'll have to hand it on to the next generation.

"What it needs is that enthusiasm and that volunteerism to come up through the ranks," he said.

Mr Thomson acted as president of the Mildura Ski Club for three years and has been a volunteer for 14 years, with his main role to oversee the turnaround at Wickets Point.

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