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by George Clark

South Canterbury ski fields are moving ahead with season pass sales for winter 2020.

Following Monday’s announcement of Alert Level 2, Mt Dobson ski field manager Bruce Foote said this season may be like no other.

“It is all going to look very different depending on what lockdown level we will be at. Hopefully Level 1 or 2. We are at present working on safety systems for our staff and our customers. But we are sure by the time we are able to open you will all have down pat this social distancing that we are all living from day to day.”

Timaru’s closest ski field, Mt Dobson aims to open on July 3.

“Everything is tracking along quite nicely as it should. We do a lot of maintenance in February and March. Keep in mind we are two months away from our opening date. We envisage by the time the ski season comes around we will be in a good position.”

Mr Foote said he was not holding out for international skiers.

“We want people to come enjoy the mountain. Supporting the local tourism economy is our priority, international ski teams coming for race training is out of our control. Hopefully the borders will be opened later in the season but we are just crossing our fingers.”

Roundhill ski area manager Tim Douglass said the Tekapo field has had a difficult lead-up to opening.

“The biggest issue for us when it comes to Covid-19 is the lack of clear information and guidance from the Government to work towards our operations this winter. Staffing, preparation, and snow-making take months of planning, this is becoming increasingly difficult due to the uncertainty and lack of information,” he said.

“Luckily we managed to tick off most of our pre-season projects before lockdown.”

The Ski Areas Association of New Zealand is working with MBIE and WorkSafe on guidelines for the operation of all ski areas under the alert level system.

“We hope these are able to be published soon, aiming to open from June 27 until September 13. All going well, come winter we will be able to see a few of you in sunny Lake Tekapo.”

It is understood Lake Ohau Lodge and Snow Field is pushing ahead with preparations to open for the season on June 29.