Well, well, well! Welcome to Season 2013. May it be cold, snow-filled, and not too windy!
We're less than a week away from the first ski season openings in New Zealand and Australia, so its as good a time as any to share a few bits of news for 2013. Then its on to regular snow reports, so stay tuned this weekend as I go around the resorts to see what's open.
Falls Creek and Mt Hotham have put in RFID scanning gates on multiple lifts at each resort. These usually allow you to zip through by using a card kept in your jacket pocket. Falls, Summit, Eagle and Falls Express lifts now have RFID gates, while at other chairlifts staff use handheld RFID scanners to scan the reloadable lift pass card called Snowpass.
The new RFID gates at Mt Hotham (see above) are at Summit, Big D, Heavenly and Village.
Diamond pattern chains are now mandatory for ALL vehicles coming up the Great Alpine Road to Mt Hotham. Ladder chains, spider chains and snow socks are not permitted to be used at any time. This move has been to address the large number of times cars got into trouble last year, blocking the road.
Perisher has added automated snowmaking to both Excelerator (at Blue Cow) and Lower Escapade (in Centre Valley), helping these areas open earlier and longer into the season.
Thredbo has made its beginner area, Friday Flat, bigger with a new first-timer area and a new ski run - Giddy Up. A new run-out from High Noon will attempt to separate more advanced skiers and riders returning to the Gunbarrell Express lift.
I'm not sure if it was new last year or this year, but some time over the last few years Roundhill put in a second T-Bar called T2 that opens up some more intermediate terrain at the Lake Tekapo skifield.
Not sure what happened with Ohau's second lift to the ridge that I reported on last year. Maybe we'll get some news during the season.
Treble Cone have created a new Jazz Kids Fun Trail in the Home Basin. The Terrain Trail includes fun pint sized park features accessible to even the littlest of skiers or snowboarders.
Snow Park NZ
Snow Park, the dedicated freestyle resort that sits in the Cardrona Valley opposite Cardrona Alpine Resort, announced it will not open in 2013. It has been sold to the neighbouring vehicle proving ground.