Snowguns fire up as skifield prepares for opening

Coronet Peak, pictured late yesterday afternoon, is scheduled to open on June 7. Photo by Christina McDonald.
Coronet Peak, pictured late yesterday afternoon, is scheduled to open on June 7. Photo by Christina McDonald.
More than 100 snowguns were fired up on Coronet Peak on Wednesday, pumping snow across the trails for about 19 hours.

Mild temperatures in the resort recently have caused many to question whether the skifield will open on time on June 7.

However, ski area manager Ross Copland said his team was optimistic, particularly given a southerly front was forecast to hit the region this weekend.

Mr Copland said the front was expected to deliver about 15cm of snow on Saturday and Sunday and more could arrive on Monday.

''We've got a big weekend ahead.

''Once the weather's good we'll rip into [snow-making].''

The guns were turned on for the first time this year about 2.30pm on Wednesday, coinciding with a ''skiff'' of snow on the ski area, and pumped snow until about 9am yesterday.

''We're in really good shape actually - we've [made] some big changes over summer ... We have 19% more electricity available this year, which is huge for us in terms of snow-making.

''We've also moved some of our firepower; we've had helicopters flying [snow] guns around, so the heavy hitters are down lower on the mountain.''

Other developments at Coronet Peak included the installation of 80 new lights on the mountain, adding more than 4km of trails and doubling the accessible terrain for Friday and Saturday night skiing; a new ''Park After Dark'' freestyle run with boxes, rails and a giant airbag; and additions to the base building, including the installation of two outdoor Italian wood-smoke pizza ovens, new gas heaters, a new bar, a ''mega video screen'' and a DJ station.

Mr Copland said it was hoped after two average winter seasons, 2014 would be one for the books.

The leadership and senior management teams had already begun work, and a company induction day was scheduled for the beginning of June, in preparation for the scheduled June 7 opening date.

Cardrona is scheduled to open on June 20, the Remarkables on June 21 and Treble Cone on June 26.