IN 1987 Terry Bennett was race starter at his first Mildura 100 Ski Race and almost 27 years later he has no plans to call it quits.
While the former Victoria team captain has many happy memories of the event, it also holds a tragic memory for the Bennett family.
Mr Bennett’s son Wade and daughter Nicole began ski
racing at Echuca’s Southern 80 at age nine and 10 respectively.
With their father in the
driver’s seat, it wasn’t without its share of hiccups.
“Being a good father I ran out of fuel just before the
finish line two years in a row,” Mr Bennett said.
Despite their flawed
introduction to ski racing, the
siblings went on to become champions of the sport with Nicole taking out several state titles and Wade claiming four Australian titles, 27 state titles and 13 state championships at the Southern 80 and Mildura 100.
In 1994, at the age of 23, Wade was competing in the Mildura 100 when he fell at a speed of 180km/h while passing the finish line.
“Wade was completely torn in half, he almost lost his life,” Mr Bennett said.
“Mildura Hospital is probably the reason he’s still alive, they did some fantastic work. He was then flown to the Royal Adelaide Hospital and they were just brilliant,” he said.
Wade broke his pelvis in two places, broke his hip, fractured and dislocated his arm, tore an artery in his right leg
damaging the sciatic nerve, sustained many internal
injuries, went into a coma and has since undergone many surgeries.
In 26 years of attending the Mildura 100, 1994 was the one year Mr Bennett missed the race.
“The gods must have been looking down on me that day and didn’t want me to see it,” said Mr Bennett.
While Wade will never fully recover from the
accident and still experiences
“horrific pain”, Mr Bennett said he couldn’t do anything to stop him when he decided to
re-enter the sport.
“I hated it, he was still skiing at 100 miles an hour.
“His mind set was to break every record he could in the disabled class, it’s in his blood, he doesn’t like giving up,” he said.
Despite the ever-present
reminder of past hardships, Mr Bennett still travels to Mildura to be a part the event.
For more of this story, purchase your copy of Saturday's Sunraysia Daily 19/04/2014.