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Tuesday, June 21, 2011
NZ ski areas in need of snow

By Megan Michelson
ESPN Action Sports

Snow Park NZ is making snow but hasn't set an opening date yet.

Many New Zealand ski areas have had to delay opening due to unseasonably warm temperatures and a lack of snow. Most resorts were planning to start operations in June but as of now, no major resort is open yet. The resorts are waiting for a streak of cold temperatures in order to start making snow.

"It's definitely abnormal not having any snow whatsoever at this stage of the year," Kiwi pro skier Janina Kuzma told ESPN. "The mountains are still brown and if there is snow up there, it's all manmade. We have no snow base. It's quite scary considering the mountains are set to open soon. Hopefully it will snow soon."

Wanaka's Treble Cone, Cardrona and Snow Park NZ are hoping to open this weekend, but they're still waiting for the right conditions. "Unfortunately we have still not been in a position to make a call an opening day, though we are busy making snow every possible moment we can," says Kristy Quin, marketing director at Snow Park NZ. "Our box run is almost covered and our team is ready to start. As soon as we can we will."

Queenstown's Coronet Peak was scheduled to open June 4, but the mountain needs at least 72 hours of continuous cold temperatures to make enough snow to open. "Obviously it's hugely disappointing for the management and staff of Coronet Peak that we can't get the season underway, but we will open on the very first day we possibly can," said Coronet Peak ski area manager Hamish McCrostie.

The Remarkables planned to open June 18 and Canterbury's Mt. Hutt hoped to open June 11, but neither have opened yet. At the club fields on Arthur's Pass, Craigieburn, Broken River and others have set an opening day of July 2.

The earthquake that hit Christchurch last week, and a larger earthquake that hit earlier this year, will likely have little effect on the ski season. "After watching the news, I think a lot of people have decided to leave Christchurch now after the recent quake," Kuzma said. "A lot of the ski fields surrounding the Christchurch area might have a loss on customers this season, but I don't think it will affect the resorts much in the Otago area."

Kuzma added that big events such as the New Zealand Winter Games, the World Heli Challenge, the NZ Freeski Open and the Burton Open should draw participants and spectators -- even if it the snow doesn't. "These are major events," Kuzma said, "and people will be turning up for them. Let's hope it snows soon."