There’s no slowing them down

February 16, 2017

Monday, February 13, marked the seventh anniversary of Tim Driver's death during the 2010 Southern 80 ski race.

BURIED amongst the ‘‘in memoriam’’ section of the Herald Sun on Monday, barely four lines long, was a tribute to skier Tim Driver.

Monday, February 13, marked the seventh anniversary of his death during the 2010 Southern 80 ski race.

The devastating event, still strongly in the minds of family and friends of the 43-year-old, marred one of the most successful years in the race’s history.

And this year’s Southern 80 will again be remembered not for the glory of the teams who finished, but for the tragedy of those who didn’t.

David Morabito, 50, marked the fifth death in the race’s 52-year history — the second in two years — and prompted calls from the public to ban the event.

The Riverine Herald received a number of social media comments labelling the incident as the final turning point for cancelling the race on its coverage of the death.

‘‘Too many people get hurt or die in this event. The river has more trees in it due to recent flooding.’’ one person wrote, another saying ‘‘Yet another family mourning. Time to cancel this even(t). The river is extremely unpredictable!’’.

However, the likelihood of Ski Racing Victoria to actually withdraw the event from its calendar is near impossible.

As Ski Racing Victoria chief executive Wes Lloyd said, the Southern 80 is one of the best known of the river classics and brings an unrivalled surfeit of resources to Echuca-Moama.

And the dedicated families who compete in the event will still engage in it, whether the Southern 80 continues or not.

There is a tendency for people who don’t understand the race to overlook ski racing for what it is — an extreme sport.

These teams go out there in the pursuit of that rush of adrenaline which comes from hurtling down the Murray at almost 200km/h with a 1650hp engine roaring beneath them.

And if they can’t find it on the water they’ll turn to motocross or rally-driving to get their hi-octane fix, as many in the sport already do.

And as far as deaths in extreme sports go — the Southern 80 is one of the tamer races out there.

NASCAR has had as many as 28 deaths throughout its series since the 1940s, Formula One a further 51, the Isle of Man motorbike races recorded more than 270 fatalities since 1910 and motocross is up there as one of the most dangerous sports in the world.

But for the people involved the risks are something which they accept.

It’s all part of the compromise for the enjoyment they get out of racing and watching their friends and families compete.

And while some may not understand the reasons why these people do what they do, there is nothing which will stop them continuing to push the limits and gamble with their bodies in their need for speed.

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