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Tommy Tomasi – An Australian Alpine Legend

Posted on 17 Aug, 2016 in Festivals & Events

It is near impossible to condense the intriguing story of Tommy Tomasi into 3-minutes. Here is a snap shot of Tommy’s incredible life, how he came to Thredbo and the impact he has had…

At 90 years of age, Tommy has lived a full and enthralling life. He was born in 1926 and grew up in the mountains of Northern Italy, where, by the age of 4 he had already developed a love of skiing. Things changed in 1943 for Tommy, when war arrived upon his doorstep. Only 17 at the time, he had one of two options ­– either join the forces of Hitler and Mussolini or head into the mountains and fight alongside the Italian partisans. Not favouring the fascists, Tommy’s Father handed him a gun and pointed him towards the hills.


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After blowing up a bridge while trying to stop a German convoy, Tommy snuck home to visit his parents. It was here where a local fascist boy spotted him, and he was taken by The Gestapo to Germany and placed into a concentration camp. After nine months, Tommy was able to escape the camp during the chaos that unfolded following an American artillery attack from the air. He, and three others covered themselves under fallen tree branches in a nearby forest and waited, where the Americans eventually found them. After months of starvation and unimaginable conditions, a frail Tommy weighed in at just 32kgs. He was taken to a small village, where the Americans helped him to recuperate. To thank them, Tommy offered his services as an interpreter and joined the American forces to look for ex-Gestapo.


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When the war ended Tommy returned home to his parents in Italy where he tried to find work and continued to ski. Being a partisan during the war made it difficult to find employment among fascists, and eventually Tommy made the hard decision to leave his family and start his future away from Italy. He was able to get a visa to Australia thanks to his time working with the Americans, so he took the chance and jumped on a boat heading to Fremantle, WA. Tommy began working in the mines near Kalgoorlie, where his expert use of explosives from the war soon came in handy.


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It was a while before a photo of the Chalet at Charlottes Pass caught his eye while walking down the main street of Perth one afternoon…he didn’t even know Australia had snow! So with this knowledge, Tommy brought a car and drove across the country, arriving into Cooma, NSW. He worked on the Snowy Hydro scheme, where he drove a bulldozer, eventually applying for a ski instructor’s job at Charlottes Pass in 1953. It was at Charlottes that Tommy met his wife Joyce, and friend Tony Sponar (founder of Thredbo). After two seasons, Tommy went back to Snowy Hydro where he worked in the hydrology department for the next 10 years.


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Tommy and Tony Sponar would regularly ski out from the main range together and at the top of where Eagles Nest is now, Tony shared with Tommy his dream of turning the valley into what is now Thredbo Resort. He had Charles Anton, a sharebroker from Sydney onboard, so Tommy suggested that if they did start a resort, then he’d like to start the ski patrol. By 1956 the build began and Thredbo Resort started to take form.  Over the years, Tommy Tomasi has built and nurtured a world class and world-renowned ski patrol here at Thredbo. He has become an integral part of alpine Australia and at the young old age of 90, Tommy is still as spirited as ever, and can probably still beat you down the slopes.


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We can’t thank Tommy enough for everything he has given to Thredbo over the years, we look forward to skiing with him for many more to come. If you ever get the chance, be sure to drop into Eagles Nest. You’ll find Tommy there, having a coffee most mornings, and if you’re lucky enough, he might even share some of his captivating stories with you.


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Like Tommy, every visitor to Thredbo has a unique story to tell and this season we want to hear your story.

So what’s your #MyThredbo?  We’d love to know…Click here to find out more.

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Thredbo sits on the traditional land of the Monero – Ngarigo people who have looked after this land, water and community for over 60,000 years. We thank them for all they have done and continue to do to look after their country, a special place which we all love and respect.

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