Winter’s first snows hit NZ mountains
19 May 2010
The 2010 ski season’s first snow dump has landed in New Zealand - at the peak of the popular Canterbury ski area at Mt Hutt.
The vast commercial high country ski field has received 10cm of fresh powder, and is likely to get more throughout the week.
Mt Hutt manager Dave Wilson says the first snow dump is the start of a promising ski season for New Zealand.
"It’s great to see a dump of wet snow that should stick around and help create a good base. The cold temperatures mean that the team will get started on snowmaking in the next few days to add to the base that has already accumulated."
Queenstown is also expecting the first winter snow later in the week - just in time for the start of snowmaking on 22 May, and the scheduled opening of Coronet Peak ski area on 5 June.
Olympic gold at Coronet Peak
The promise of early snow at Coronet Peak has attracted world-class Winter Olympic gold medallist Lindsey Vonn - who spends southern hemisphere winters training at the popular South Island ski area.
Downhill skier ‘The Great Lindsey Vonn’ was the first American woman to win a gold medal in the ‘downhill’ category this year, and also the first to win back-to-back overall World Cup Championships in 2008 and 2009. Vonn will be training at Coronet Peak along with the rest of the US team.
Coronet Peak will also be the New Zealand winter training ground of top European and Asian Olympic teams, including Switzerland, Korea, Norway and Japan.
Ski area manager Hamish McCrostie says the race department at the mountain works hard to ensure that the facilities used by the teams are top-notch.
"The conditions we provide are just as challenging as those encountered on the Olympic stage. We work incredibly hard to actively simulate the conditions these racers would encounter during World Cup and Olympic racing."
A new radio-frequency pass system, dubbed ‘mypass’ - is being launched on 5 June by NZSki, the company that manages the Mt Hutt, Coronet Peak and The Remarkables ski fields.
The passes, hailed as a vast improvement on the old-style ‘widget’ pass, are destined to streamline visitor transactions on the mountainside. Each mypass contains a microchip that can be scanned through clothing, and carries a unique code that can be used to create an individual profile.
The multi-season pass can be topped up with credit to use throughout Coronet Peak, Mt Hutt and The Remarkables on all ski field products and services.
The new passes would cut down on queue times and deliver a much more customer-friendly ski experience, according to NZSki chief executive James Coddington.
"All relevant information, including images, will come up on a screen which ‘lifties’ can easily check without having to request people to produce their pass."
NZ ski fields gearing up for winter 2010
NZ skiing / snowboarding destinations
New Zealand winter 2010 highlights
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