Been there, done that: still skiing at 82

Wanaka skier Betty Main is looking forward to another snow season. Photo by Marjorie Cook.
Wanaka skier Betty Main is looking forward to another snow season. Photo by Marjorie Cook.
When Wanaka's skifields received an early fall of snow this week, few were more pleased than one of Treble Cone's most senior skiers, Betty Main.

Mrs Main (82) was one of the first into Treble Cone's office on Tuesday to collect her pass. She also has one for Cardrona Alpine Resort.

"From 75 you don't have to pay. It's my very favourite four-letter word beginning with F - free," Mrs Main said.

The veteran athlete describes herself as a "been there, done that" person and she would not let recent knee surgery get in the way of her winter fun.

"There is no point putting your toes up until you're under the daisies." She has 66 years of skiing experience and has enjoyed an overseas ski holiday every year since 1972.

The former Dunedin Hospital anaesthetist began skiing on the Rock and Pillar Range with the Otago Ski Club, then switched to Coronet Peak.

Her old wooden skis now have pride of place above the fireplace in the Otago Ski Club hut on Coronet Peak.

Mrs Main and her late husband, Brian, started going to Treble Cone in 1969 and were among the original shareholders.

"We were able to use the Land Rover until the corner where the grader is parked now. There was not a road then. Then we had to walk up with our weekend food, skis and sleeping bags etc, up to the A-frame [hut]," Mrs Main recalled.

She continues to enjoy her sport because shortly after joining the Wanaka Masters club she met five-times United States Masters champion Charlene Brager, with whom she has since enjoyed many ski adventures. Mrs Brager will visit Wanaka this season.

"I am very lucky. She looks after the skis, pours me into my boots and drives me up there. She is my personal trainer," Mrs Main said.

While skiers are relishing the wintry blast, skifield operators are racing to complete this season's infrastructure requirements before staff arrive in June.

Up to 8cm of snow fell at Cardrona this week, providing a good base, but the resort's marketing manager, Nadia Ellis, said this week ground temperatures needed to drop before snow-making could begin.

The usual adage was "snow in May never stays", she said.

The skifield opens on June 24.

Treble Cone is scheduled to open on June 23 and the Snow Park on June 11, if it is cold enough to make snow.


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