Southern 80

Southern 80 victory means a complete Superman

By Brayden May

ON SUNDAY morning, Superman’s trophy cabinet housed almost every major ski race title in Australia.

But there was one space – a glaring absence – which had been collecting dust for 14 years.

The Southern 80 trophy.

It was the kryptonite which had been eating away at the team since they first entered the race in 2007.

Not any more, after Superman stormed to a stunning victory – they were 16 seconds behind TR after the Bakers Blitz – in a time of 31:06.

But their kryptonite curse stalked them all the way – with mechanical problems on the start line.

‘‘We actually blew the transmission, but we were fortunate that it just went into second,’’ skier Daniel Cotton said.

‘‘And once it’s in gear it normally stays there, which it did.

‘‘We were lucky to get away without too much trouble.’’

It seemed to snap the curse and they were home and hosed when pacesetter and reigning champion TR was plagued with mechanical problems in the final sector of the race.

Until then they were on target to break their 29.22 record set in 2019.

‘‘It’s unlucky on their behalf because they have an awesome crew,’’ skier Daniel Graziano said.

‘‘We always knew they would be tough to beat and when we started seeing their wash and then saw the boat, we immediately thought something must have happened to them.

‘‘You do get a little bit excited, but you still know there is a lot of good crews still coming from behind you.’’

The victory capped off a remarkable 12 months for Graziano, who missed the 2019 race due to the birth of his child.

And his return to the water was perfect.

‘‘I’ve been racing for a very long time and this is the only race I hadn’t won for this team,’’ Graziano said.

‘‘I’ve always wanted to win it and it’s taken a lot of hard work to actually get here today.

‘‘It’s certainly a very special feeling to have come out on top.’’

Owner Darren McGuire – in a Jerry Maguire moment – said the win ‘‘feels like we’re complete’’.

‘‘I’m so proud of everyone, it has taken so much effort, so much hard work, by everyone.’’

It almost felt like it was meant to be, perhaps they should have gone straight to the nearest Tattslotto outlet.

As clocks approached 1pm, spectators were expecting to see TR roar past the finish line in another record.

But no one was aware of the technical glitch they had experienced – their guardian mode had kicked in thinking, a team member said, it needed to protect the engine. They tried to overcome it on the run but nothing worked.

By the time they crossed the line, Superman were only a matter of seconds – after its previous 13 attempts – behind their superclass rivals.

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