The ride of their lives (Part 1)

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New skool …

Every winter weekend, Queenstown teen Jonty Norton heads up Coronet Peak in search of the best powder. 

Listening to the Red Hot Chili Peppers on his iPod, the 15-year-old cruises to the gates of the Coronet Express quad. He doesn’t show a paper ticket or season pass – his new NZSki “mypass”, tucked away in his jacket, contains personalised information using radio frequency technology that instantly recognises him and lets him through to the lift. 

Within minutes, he’s at the top. 

Snow guns, fast chairlifts and automated ticketing mean the powder-hungry Wakatipu High student can access the whole of Coronet Peak all season round. 

The freestyle and back-country skier appreciates the difference technology makes. 

“With snow-making, it’s a much longer season and you can start much earlier. And there’s always guaranteed snow coverage. 

“I know every single place in Coronet Peak, every single run. I know all the good powder runs.” 

Jonty first hit the slopes aged three and recalls falling off the old Poma lift where the magic carpet is now. 

“The chairlifts have got faster, with the installation of the new six and the new quad, which means it’s got more access to all the slopes. It’s a faster ride and easier – the chair doesn’t come up and hit you in the bum – now it comes in soft.”