Treble Cone author Matt Conway. Photo by Leith Huffadine.
It will seem hard for dedicated Treble Cone skiers and
snowboarders to imagine, but the author of the official history
of their favourite field - a book called Treble Cone
launched in Wanaka on Saturday night - never once set his foot
in a ski-binding during the eight years he spent researching
Matt Conway, of Alexandra, has a simple explanation.
Although his two sons love the sport, skiing has just never
been his thing.
''No balance. But I'd love to do all that stuff - surf,
However, the one-time Christchurch newspaper and television
journalist found writing the history a very ''positive''
''Having done crime and mayhem for a lot of years, you see
people at some pretty tough times.
''And this was something that people were just universally
keen to talk about.
''Their eyes just sparkled when they talked about it.
''They were just really into it, and it was nice to be around
Mr Conway became involved with the book after moving from
Christchurch to Alexandra with wife Sonia Keogh.
He had no job and freelance journalism was ''fairly skinny in
this part of the world'' .
However, he knew someone who knew Treble Cone chairman Nat
And Mr Craig believed it was ''high time'' the stories were
gathered together of how Treble Cone founders such as Murray
Raffills, Sir Tim Wallis and Ken Harliwich ''conjured up this
skifield out of nothing, really''.
Mr Conway started with the names of six people considered
worth talking to about the field's 47-year history but ended
up recording 35 interviews and transcribing them on to
''hundreds and hundreds'' of pages.
He searched the National, Alexander Turnbull, Wanaka and
Hocken libraries for every ''tinpot little ski magazine''
that had ever been published.
He was also lent maps, photographs and documents.
''It's the classic trap.
''You've got all this material, and a lot of it's great.
''And then you have got to try and wrestle it on to the
Mr Conway said the taped interviews provided some ''fairly
''I like to run quotes long and strong.
''So I decided that was something I wanted to do.
''I wanted to kind of get out of the way of the people who
lived the history and let them tell the story.''
Mr Conway said without having a newspaper deadline to work
to, he felt obliged to attempt to reconcile every conflicting
piece of information.
''You might have three different versions of the same
That required a ''hell of a lot of fact-checking'' and going
back to people to test their memory of events.
And, Mr Conway said he knew Treble Cone locals could get
quite fired up about issues to do with the field.
''It very quickly became apparent that if I get this wrong
I'm going to hear about it.
''That kind of added to the pressure of it as well.''
In May there was a brief controversy over the book, with Mr
Craig accusing majority shareholder John Darby of trying to
stop its distribution.
However, Mr Conway said that never affected him directly.
''I never had a call from any of the current Treble Cone
administration to express any concerns or talk about any
''I really just kept my head down and it just played out as
''And thankfully it's been released, and is selling well, I
To answer the question about why he thinks people ski, Mr
Conway quotes the recollection of 1970s rope tow operator
Noel Wilson, skiing in a whiteout.
''You just felt like you were floating.
''We were up to our armpits in it.
''Over the bluffs and hollows.
''You didn't know where they were; couldn't see them.
''It was just a wonderful feeling.
''You felt like a bird just floating down the bloody field.
And fresh from reading the quote to the ODT, Mr Conway
admitted he would love to experience skiing ''sometime''.