Two snow-mad Queenstown youngsters have claimed first tracks of the ski season – for the third year running.
Cougar Bryant, 10, and his sister Tallulah, eight, were first in line at Coronet Express Quad yesterday (Saturday) morning, this time joined by younger brother Tristan, six, and mum Tania.
They were among 800 hardy skiers and boarders who queued from 5am to be the first on the chair lift and Coronet Peak – the first skifield in Australasia to open for the 2013 winter season.
Guests were given a glass of bubbles, a T-Shirt and welcomed by NZSki’s Coronet Peak ski area manager Ross Copland.
“It’s great to finally be here and we’re all absolutely amped about opening on schedule with such fantastic conditions and the season to come,” Copland says.
“Everyone’s really enjoying the snow and atmosphere, the car parks have filled up, it couldn’t be better.
“The build-up to today, from the favourable weather conditions to the buzz on social media and in Queenstown, has been huge and so we’re thrilled to start on such a high.”
About 2000 skiers and snowboarders hit the slopes over the day. Getting in his first runs among them was 61-year-old Japanese skier Tomoyoki Imada, who holds the record from last season of the most vertical kilometers skied in one season.
Natural snowfalls over the past few weeks have been supported by Coronet Peak’s 213 snow guns, which operate automatically in favourable conditions.
“Not only are we first to open, but thanks to the fantastic job by our grooming team we’re doing it with a number of trails operating for all levels of skier and boarder, a full range of facilities, great coffee, braziers blazing on the deck and a fantastic vibe,” Copland says.
Coronet Peak opened with a 30cm base on the lower slopes and 40cm up top, providing access on the Coronet Express to the main M1 trail, Upper and Lower Wall Street, Mid Gully, Shirtfront and Million Dollar.
The Meadows Express lift also opened for novice and early intermediate skiers and boarders, and carpet lifts accessed the main beginners’ area.