ROSS MARTIN
(1943-2011)

The following is an excert from a longer article written by Gus Hearl and Peter Southwell-Kealy.

Etheridge Ridge, Snowy Mountains

On Saturday 2 July, 2011 the cross country skiing community was devastated to learn of the death of Ross Martin in a cycling accident. Anybody who came into contact with Ross would have found him to be at times, a charming, and at other times, a challenging companion. He was, however, always interesting and always happy to share his opinions with whoever was prepared to listen.

He was, for many people, the embodiment of cross country skiing in this country.  Indeed, Ross was such a larger-than-life character that, even though his on snow feats have been surpassed by many skiers, his standing as one of the great cross country skiers produced by this country remains undiminished. If anyone was a legend and an elder statesman in cross-country skiing in Australia, it was Ross.

Ross’ uncle, the late Bruce Haslingden, competed in the 1952 Oslo Winter Olympics and seems to have been the catalyst for Ross’ interest in cross country skiing.  Ross worked for Bruce as a jackaroo for a while after leaving school and, through Bruce, established a lifelong association with both Kosciusko Alpine Club and Cooma Ski Club.  He is rightly recognised as a legend of both those esteemed organisations and the active members of each of those clubs could dine out for years to come on Ross Martin stories (some of which are actually true).

Ross joined KAC as a junior member in 1956 and also became a member of Cooma Ski Club at about the same time. He had skied in cross-country races every year since 1961. It was his idea to start the KAC Martini Cross Cross-Country Classic in 1972 and he competed in every one of those races until 2010, one of only three people to achieve that milestone.  In recent times he had also been actively involved in re-invigorating the Charlotte Pass Open

Ross was very fortunate in that he started his racing career in the early 1960’s, when the local sport was dominated by Robbie Kilpinnen from Finland, Kore Grunnsund from Norway and Otto Pinkas from Austria. They took Ross under their wings, as it were, and he learnt much from them: not just skiing technique but toughness, a love of the mountains and a sense that nothing which came easy in life was necessarily worthwhile. Often they would use the Jagungal Wilderness between Kiandra and Grey Mare Hut as their training ground, skiing in the winter and running in the summer.

The full memorial to Ross can be found on the Aus XC Ski website.