The backflip that went viral… 600k clicks and counting

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The backflip that went viral

It’s been a year since local Melbourne teenager Bailey Johnson became a legend at Mt Hotham for jumping the ‘road gap’. And the die-hard skier says he will be back this year, to take a crack at the slopes again

Local Melbourne teenager, Bailey Johnson, 16, nearly broke the internet when a photograph of him doing a back flip on skis over the Great Alpine Road at Mt Hotham went viral on Facebook this time last year.

The photograph was seen by over 643,000 people as it was posted on Hotham Alpine Resort’s Facebook page on 19 July 2015.

“It blew all our minds at how many people were sharing the photo and commenting on it,” Bailey said. “I was really proud of the jump and landing it so smoothly, but I didn’t expect there to be so much interest in it.”

Jumping the ‘road gap’ is something of a legend at Mt Hotham, with only a few brave and talented skiers ever attempting the dangerous stunt. The road gap is where the Great Alpine Road passes right through the alpine resort of Mt Hotham, separating the Summit and Heavenly Valley skiing areas by about 60 metres. Bailey’s jump in 2015 ignited a little something in everyone; die hard skiers and snowboarders, the locals, weekenders, young people all over Australia as well as Ski Patrol.

“No doubt about it, it could have gone very wrong that day and Bailey could have ended up in hospital in a bad way,” said Bill Barker, Head of Mt Hotham Ski Patrol. “But he cleared it and did it with style. It was very impressive but we would have liked to have known about it beforehand so we could have put some safety measures in place. We picked Bailey up from an invert that went wrong a couple of years ago and we want to see him skiing and flipping for years to come,” he added.

“We went out at about 11pm the night before and shovelled the jump,” Bailey said. “The next morning we all jumped it one time each and cleared it and then someone showed up on a skidoo and tried to shut it down. That’s when the photographer showed up and I just went for the backflip,” Bailey added.

The photographer, Mark Tsukasov, happened to be in the area at the right time and snapped Bailey mid-inversion with Bailey’s father also in shot capturing the moment on his smartphone.

Bailey joins local legend Peter Zirknitzer among the very few to jump the road gap. Zirky, as he is known to locals, used to jump the gap daily on skis on his way to lessons when he was an instructor. A photo captured of it on display in the family owned hotel at Hotham since 1980s.

“I’ve grown up skiing at Hotham and always admired the photo of Zirky jumping the gap. I never thought that my photo would become more iconic, but that’s the power of social media I guess,” Bailey said.

Since the photo went viral on the internet, Bailey has been finishing his year 12 school studies at Yarra Valley Grammar and ironically recovering from a knee injury he sustained while skiing in Keystone Colorado, USA this Northern hemisphere winter.

Bailey will be back skiing at Mt Hotham this winter season and can usually be found in one of Hotham’s terrain parks or building jumps in the side-country, though, he won’t be attempting as many big jumps this year.

“I think I’ll leave the big tricks to freestyle competitions where I don’t have to worry about getting into any trouble,” he said.

Make the most of Hotham’s new Midweek Mountain Magic special where you can ski or snowboard three days for the price of a 2-day lift pass Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Find out more at www.hotham.com.au/MountainMagic

Photo caption: Bailey Johnson backflipping over the road gap at Mt Hotham. Photo credit: Mark Tsukasov
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