Gale fears for skifield opening


A Queenstown skifield’s opening weekend is under threat from a weather bomb - bringing fresh snow but also gales.

The resort’s 2016 ski season is due to start when the Coronet Express chairlift cranks into action at Coronet Peak, Saturday, 9am.

The first six on the chair get T-shirts, while the first 100 in the queue get a breakfast roll and coffee.

But NZSki’s Coronet Peak boss Ross Copland says fingers are crossed over gusty westerlies.

“The Sydney weather bomb is currently tracking our way, fuelled by some very strong winds, but that’s not going to dampen our spirits.”

Copland says they’ll do their best to ensure skiers and snowboarders can get in their first runs of the season this weekend.

The good news, he says, is the freezing level is forecast to drop consecutively tomorrow, Saturday and Sunday.

“By Sunday we could be looking at some potentially heavy snow to quite low levels.”

The slopes have the best pre-season cover in years, he says.

Copland aims to open with the M1 and Big Easy trails operating, as well as beginners’ areas. Wall Street and Million Dollar trails will be subject to weather.

“We’re ready and waiting to open, so the minute we can safely operate lifts once wind levels drop we’ll be welcoming skiers and snowboarders to the slopes.”

As always, there’ll be free bubbles at the Coronet Express, music on the deck, and spot prizes. Cardrona Alpine Resort’s scheduled to open the same day.