Let’s all ski with Steve Lee now: support #steveleefightback

Thousands of recreational skiers and boarders have had the pleasure and privilege of Skiing with Steve Lee over the years.

Especially with his pioneering Steve Lee’s Backcountry Tours Falls Creek sled operation, offering the closest thing to heli-skiing you will ever get in Australia, and the simply the best powered skiing we’ve ever had downunder.

Then he did it all again as one of the very best guides to Hakuba’s amazing back and side country in the northern winter with his Hakuba Powder Tours operation.

Even in this COVID-19 smashed winter he was ready and keen to operate as soon as snow conditions allowed, and for as long as the Victorian COVID restrictions allowed – even after Vail Resorts pulled the pin on lift operations.

Sadly, the snow didn’t come before complete lockdown so he couldn’t fire up in 2020.

Simply the best powered skiing ever downunder © Steve Lee

Most would recall any day out skiing with Steve as one of, if not the best, they ever had.

Tragically, he can’t guide us like that anymore, but we sure can all get on and help him and his family with the recovery process.

With no Snow Travel Expos this year we missed our usual annual catch up with him last May, which would normally see us as the stayers at the after party sharing some laughs and maybe salsa dancing.

Normally right about now in October Steve would be doing the charity auction at the annual Ski Trade Show in Canberra, as the Rossignol importers donate gear with all funds raised going to a worthy ski industry cause. Steve’s spruiking always ensured those funds were maximised, one of the many ways he put back into the industry. Now the industry and those who love it need to put back for him and his family who face years of care and rehabilitation, a tough road that at least some financial support will make a bit easier.

Get on and contribute here https://asf.org.au/donate/snow-australia/steve-lee-fightback/ donations are tax deductible over $2

We have known Steve for 30 odd years, having had the privilege to watch him race Downhill in the Lauberhorn at Wengen back in 1991. Whether you hadn’t seen him for a year or 5, he had the knack of making it feel like 5 minutes. And invariably we would have a laugh about something.

Our Features Editor and 30 year veteran ski journalist Bronwen Gora was the last of the Snow Action team to actually get out skiing with Steve, in Hakuba last year. Here’s her take on what a day skiing with Steve Lee was like. From all of us here we wish you and the family the best recovery possible, if anyone can overcome this you can. – Owain & Carmen Price

Steve Lee guiding in Hakuba 2019 © Bronwen Gora

Being guided by Aussie alpine ski racing legend and three-time Olympian Steve Lee is a privilege many of his clients will now be fondly remembering.

Like the day in February 2019 when he led our trusting crew into Hakuba’s high alpine off-piste through snow and fog so thick we were forced to stay just metres apart on the traverse so as not to get lost.

Eventually the master stopped above an untracked valley heaving with fresh snow. With his trademark casualness, Lee briefed us on the run and snow conditions, wished us a good time, then took off down the first pitch in a display of skill that rendered us speechless. The sight of Lee slicing effortlessly through knee-deep powder was mesmerizing.

After he disappeared into the mist one of our party finally declared, “The boy can ski!”

Trust Steve to find the exit even in a white out © Bronwen Gora

Today Lee, 58, lies in a hospital bed in Victoria’s Wangaratta Hospital after suffering a severe stroke in the early hours of September 6. 

His condition was complicated by the fact he was only discovered many hours afterwards when his nephew Paddy found him on the floor of his bedroom. It was 18 hours before he reached Royal Melbourne Hospital by helicopter. Lee had suffered a large inoperable stroke, the likes of which could not be reduced with medication to prevent further impact. He was largely paralysed down his left side and put on standby to have part of his skull removed to reduce the swelling.

The tragedy is even more stark given Lee is so fit and healthy, guiding ski tours year-round from his home resort of Falls Creek Victoria, and during the northern hemisphere season, in the backcountry mecca of Hakuba, Japan. One of Australia’s greatest athletes, Lee wore the green and gold at three consecutive Olympic Games – 1984, 1988 and 1992. He produced his best Olympic finish at his third Games in Albertville where he finished 16th in the Super Combined event.

As for now, Lee’s prognosis is unknown along with his future needs – even where he will be able to live – and he is having to re-learn many of the basics, including how to swallow without choking.

Friends and family of the Australian alpine ski racing legend have launched a fundraising initiative, #steveleefightback. Just as he has helped so many enjoy the mountains, right now Lee needs every bit of help we can give back. – Bronwen Gora

#steveleefightback – the details

As many in the community will be aware Olympic Skiing legend Steve Lee suffered a massive stroke at home in Falls Creek in early September. Steve is a three time Olympian and the second ever Australian to claim victory on the Alpine World Cup circuit. He is a loved and respected member of the skiing community and he desperately needs your help.

Steve is currently in a rehab facility in Wangaratta and is paralysed on his left side. He will need ongoing treatment, support and assistance to get him back to something that resembles a normal life again.

Steve will need significant financial support in order for this to happen and Snow Australia is calling on the broader snow community to help out.  

All donations made through the Australian Sports Foundation portal are tax deductible. We urge you to support Steve and to encourage others to do the same.

Get on and contribute here https://asf.org.au/donate/snow-australia/steve-lee-fightback/

After you donate follow Steve’s progress on his ‘Support Tribe‘ facebook page.

Steve Lee has delivered so many great days for us – like this snowboarder out at Mt McKay © Steve Lee