When life’s just one long winter

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Queenstown’s Judy Stevens-Dickerson hasn’t had a summer in almost 25 years.

The Remarkables snow sports manager has done 49 back-to-back winters since starting out at the
ski area in 1985 – and she has no plans to stop any time soon.

She’ll be up the mountain bright and early on Saturday for The Remarkables’ season opening at 9am.

Stevens-Dickerson, aged – “can you just sort of say I’m somewhere just over 50?” – reckons what keeps her going is the eagerness and excitement of the young “rookies” signing up to work with her at NZSki. “All the new instructors have so much enthusiasm and it really rubs off.”

Originally from Australia’s Gold Coast, Stevens-Dickerson fell in love with Queenstown while holidaying here in the 1980s – after training as a teacher at home, she decided to return as a ski instructor.

“I came into the industry basically the same as these [rookies]…and I haven’t left.”

She met husband Gary Dickerson while working at Mammoth Mountain in California and the pair returned to The Remarkables the next winter. Stevens-Dickerson spent three years at Coronet Peak but returned to The Remarkables in her current role in 2000. Gary Dickerson is winter workshop manager at Outside Sports.

The couple spend their northern hemisphere winters at Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

Stevens-Dickerson isn’t the longest-serving NZSki worker – a couple of others have been around even longer – yet she doesn’t feel like she’s seen as old school.

“Nobody makes me feel like that,” she says. “I kind of grew up with the operation so as we got bigger I knew what the operation was about.

“I think I’m the fount of information for people but I don’t feel like I’m part of the furniture. I feel I’m part
of a vibrant, growing business.”