Warm, wet weather leads to poor start to luge season

It might be the "worst start ever'' to the season Geoff Balme has seen in his 11 years working the Naseby Luge, but he is optimistic the season will be good.

"It could so easily turn around ... if nothing went crazy with the weather between now and the end of next week, we might be saying `didn't we have a fantastic school holidays!'''

Yesterday, Mr Balme, the New Zealand Luge president, had to postpone the opening of the Naseby Luge Camp for schoolchildren, but was hoping it would be running today.

The Naseby Ice Festival was due to be held on June 30 but was postponed to July 21 because the luge track and snow park could not open.

Mr Balme put it down to the weather.

"It's been the weather that we've had pretty much the last month,'' Mr Balme said.

"We thought things were looking really promising in Queen's Birthday weekend because we had made snow to start forming the base of the track and we thought we were just about ready to go to open it, but then it turned mild - a bit of warmth and a bit of rain.

"While we've got refrigeration, you get to a stage where you can't even hold it against wind and 10deg temperatures and water.''

Mr Balme said they needed temperatures of -3degC or -4degC to operate the snow-making machines.

But this year, Mr Balme said temperatures had only "just dipped under freezing''.

"We're primed and ready ... a couple of guys will work all night if need be and might be able to put [the kids] on a third of the track and that'll be perfect tomorrow.''

Naseby Ice Rink manager Susie Farrell said since her outdoor ice rink started operating at Queen's Birthday weekend, the season had been good and they only had two days of closure because of rain or warm weather.

She said curling had been good on the outdoor rink, but there had not been any curling on the ponds yet, which was unusual at this time of year.



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