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Central Otago Mirror - - WANAKA NEWS - Cardrona staff ready for early open­ing Snow Farm happy with con­di­tions

Dur­ing the July-Au­gust sea­son peak, at least 200 peo­ple will be em­ployed on the moun­tain.

‘‘It is just get­ting to that ex­cit­ing time of the year. Ev­ery week there are more staff start­ing back and things are now get­ting de­liv­ered, whether it is more skis for the rental shop or crock­ery for the new cafes,’’ Noble said.

Noble was on the moun­tain on Mon­day and re­ported ‘‘quite a buzz’’ as con­trac­tors worked on paint­ing, signs and new cafes.

Tre­ble Cone’s base build­ing cafe has pre­vi­ously been one big open food court but this year, one-third of the area has been di­vided off to cre­ate The Cheeky Kea gourmet burger bar for seated dining.

The re­main­ing cafe space will op­er­ate as the Tripe Treat Cafe, where peo­ple can grab a quick bite and re­turn to the slopes.

Noble said s staff spent two months in the sum­mer mov­ing a ‘‘sig­nif­i­cant amount’’ of soil and rocks with big dig­gers to remodel the trails so in­ter­me­di­ate skiers could make new ter­rain choices, Noble said.

Cardrona Alpine Ski Re­sort’s pho­tos of snow also drew more than 1500 likes fol­low­ing a 20cm dump on Mt Cardrona’s up­per slopes last week.

Cardrona plans to ex­tend its usual 15-week sea­son this year by two weeks, open­ing one week early on June 13 and closing at the end of the Oc­to­ber school hol­i­days.

Gen­eral manager Brid­get Leg­navsky told The Mir­ror the snow had com­pacted a lot in warm and windy con­di­tions since Fri­day but a de­cent base re­mained.

Snow­mak­ers were now wait­ing for colder con­di­tions so they could start snow­mak­ing.

Cardrona has com­pleted the bulk of its re­cruit­ment for the sea­son, with 500 staff con­tracted to var­i­ous po­si­tions.

Staff train­ing starts on June 2 and the sk­i­field has promised the begin­ners’ area will be ready for open­ing.

Cardrona has in­vested heav­ily in the qual­ity of the snow this year, pur­chas­ing four new groomers and bring­ing in the com­put­erised SnowSat sys­tem, which mea­sures the snow depth to a greater de­gree of ac­cu­racy and al­lows for bet­ter snow man­age­ment.

Leg­navsky said Cardrona is the first sk­i­field in the South­ern Hemi­sphere to in­tro­duce the tech­nol­ogy and should see snow spread evenly, a con­sis­tent base and ‘‘more hon­est snow re­ports’’.

Earth­works im­prove­ments have been made to the Olympic su­per pipe and the Lit­tle Bucks ter­rain park has been moved and im­proved. Some trail en­trances have been widened, bot­tle necks have been re­duced, roads have been widened and more road bar­ri­ers in­stalled. There are now two Magic Car­pets in the begin­ners’ area.

Leg­navsky said the sk­i­field had worked with the Wanaka com­mu­nity to pro­vide the 17 week sea­son.

‘‘In the last four to five years, we’ve been run­ning spring camps and there has con­sis­tently been enough snow to keep the top part of the moun­tain open. So we are en­cour­ag­ing peo­ple to come in the school hol­i­days.’’

Ef­forts have also been made to em­ploy staff with other lan­guage skills, par­tic­u­larly with the growth in sk­i­field vis­i­tors who speak Man­darin and French.

Snow Farm ski area gen­eral manager Andy Pohl is de­lighted with last week’s an­kle-to-knee deep snow­fall, which has cov­ered the small re­sort’s cross-county trails on the Pisa Range.

Pohl is look­ing for­ward to a ten­ta­tive open­ing on June 20 and hoped this week’s fore­cast for more snow came true. ‘‘But there is that old adage that snow in May doesn’t stay,’’ he said.

He has fin­ished re­cruit­ing, with 11 staff ap­pointed to nine full-time po­si­tions and two part-time po­si­tions.

‘‘Things are go­ing re­ally well. I am happy with the progress over the sum­mer and our main­te­nance projects,’’ he said.

There is a new toi­let at the Bob Lee Hut, tus­socks have been re­lo­cated off some of the trails and two new snow­shoe­ing trails have been es­tab­lished. They are be­tween 5km and 7km in length and start at the base build­ing.

The Snow Farm is op­er­ated by the Pisa Alpine Char­i­ta­ble Trust.

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