Happy 100th birthday Frank!
Australia’s oldest living Olympian, Skier Frank Prihoda, celebrates his 100th birthday today. Prihoda escaped a communist coup in Prague in 1948, skiing across the Austrian border via a frozen lake & onto a boat to Melbourne.
He competed at the 1956 Winter Olympics in Italy in the slalom & giant slalom events.
“I knew there was snow in Australia so I brought my skis with me,” Prihoda told the Sydney Morning Herald. “I remember standing on the Olympic run and the full experience was overwhelming because none of us in the Australian team were used to the atmosphere of big races.”
In 1974, Prihoda moved to Thredbo, and skied there every winter until his 90th birthday.
Remarkably he wasn’t the first Olympian in his family. His sister Sasha Nekvapil had already become an Olympian in 1948, representing Czechoslovakia at the St Moritz Olympic Winter Games before deciding to flee her native country. She did not return home with the team and eventually joined her brother in Australia.
Asked for his secret to longevity, Prihoda said: “Adventures. Don’t be afraid to take risky situations, go through them and try and do it for yourself. If you sit on your back and don’t do these things, you will short change yourself and miss out on life experiences.”
Australia Olympic Committee chief executive Matt Carroll congratulated Prihoda on the milestone: “Frank is a true pioneer of winter sport,” Carroll said. “He’s paved the way for many winter Olympians and the truly amazing winter team we have today.”
“Arriving in Australia in what I imagine would have been a very difficult time in his life, finding connection with his new nation through sport and helping to build the foundations of alpine skiing are outstanding achievements on their own.”
Pioneers come in all shapes, sizes and backgrounds and a salute to Frank Prihoda, Australian Centenarian Olympian.
Image source: Adam Kroenert / Thredbo Resort