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Back on the slopes . . . Pete Oswald takes on the slopes of Mt Dobson during a previous ski season. The field is supposed to open on July 5, a week after Roundhill and Ohau. PHOTO: Sophie Stevens (supplied)

by Greta Yeoman

South Canterbury’s ski season may begin with mostly artificial snow, but skifield managers are hoping for a good run.

Roundhill was set to open on Saturday, so staff had been busy making snow to top up the “bit of snow” that had already fallen, manager Simon Murcell said.

Snowmaking had also been on the agenda for staff at Ohau Snow Fields, manager Mike Neilson said.

The field, near Twizel, is also set to open on Saturday, but Mr Neilson expected it would just be the trails to begin with.

Upgrades included an extension of Ohau’s snowmaking system, but the construction of a new chairlift had been put off for another summer, he said.

“We’re looking forward to a good season.”

“There is lots of snow being made.”

Things were not looking so positive for the Fox Peak Ski Club, however.

Club president Alistair Miller said despite several celebratory social media posts about snowfalls earlier this year, the season at Fox Peak was again looking bleak.

“It’s not good at the moment,” he told The Courier last Friday.

“We’d like to think we’d be open for the school holidays, but we’d need a bit of snow before that.”

Mt Dobson skifield marketing manager Mike Smith said the field, which is expected to open on Friday, July 5, had retained about half of the 0.5m snowfall from Queen’s Birthday Weekend.

He was hopeful it would provide enough coverage on the main trails for the school holidays.

This year also marked Mt Dobson’s 40th anniversary, which would be celebrated later this year, Mr Smith said.

“It’s quite a big milestone.”

Other upgrades since last season included the purchase of another snow groomer, which used a winch to allow for smoothing trails on steeper terrain, along with the development of a snowboard-cross and ski-cross course.