Whenever I skim through my blog I realize that my life might look amazing. Believe me, it is amazing – most of the time. And then there are days like today. When it’s pissing down, you’re soaking wet after your first group lesson and you know there’s another four hours in the rain ahead of you. Here’s the view from the magic carpet. You can probably spot it but yep – we’ve had a lot of rain last night and today. But then there’s also the fun part of the rain – such as the rather huge area of – let’s call it – very wet snow (a.k.a. water) at the bottom of McDougalls (a chairlift at Cardrona). “Listen up, kids! See that lake down there? It’s your lucky day because we’re going to do some water skiing today! Go as fast as you can and let’s see who makes it over the water! Are you going to make it, Johnny?” Full speed ahead and we all made it – even tiny Johnny! Coming home was priceless, even …
Our ski field is finally open and we’re all really happy about that – especially if you consider the snow situation in New Zealand. Other Kiwi fields like Treble Cone, Mt Ruapehu or The Remarkables could not yet open and it’s thanks to our amazing grooming and snow making crew (who did magic with the 20 cm snow base) that we have slopes to teach on. First days back at ski school were good fun and were a good reminder why I love doing this so much. In between we have enough time for fun runs amongst ourselves, freshly baked muffins at the café and catching up with ski instructors from around the world. When we finally take the vans down the mountain I am most of the time pretty knackered, just looking forward to the essentials: shower, food, sleep. It’s getting better though and sometimes I even make it to happy hour for some social drinks.
Cardrona is officially opening tomorrow but we took the chance to already go up today and get a first taste of winter. It was windy up there & quite chilly but so good to smell the crisp cold air. A good appetizer for the weeks to come, hopefully there’s some snow on the way!
Although all that paper work for getting a visa in New Zealand is strenuous, the good news about it all is: I am going back to New Zealand for another season, hooray! More news to come as departure date gets closer.
Just came across this video from Kevin – my locker-room neighbor at Cardrona and the only German I met on the mountain (which is quite uncommon as New Zealand in general seems to be full of Germans). Anyway, Kevin did an awesome wrap up of the season in video format. And although he worked in a different department this pretty much reflects what the season in Wanaka felt like (including the early wake-up, fun workouts at the trampolining places, etc.) Just replace the half pipe with the magic carpet & ski beginners and the slopestyle with more terrain skiing and you get what my world looked like (although I missed the dress-up at closing day which looks like it was good fun).
Today I went for the last ski up at Cardrona – all alone, with lots of time to look back on the season and reflect how it went. So many things are different over here in New Zealand – you have to drive all the way up to the base area of a mountain, everything at the ski field is owned by one company, there are canteen style fast food places instead of cosy chalets with good food, slopes are not marked as such, ski fields have a maximum of four lifts and lifties are actually friendly and good fun instead of grumpy old men. Yet, at the same time so many things are similar – you feel immediately welcomed in the ski instructor community, the town has a buzzing night life with happy hour drinking and in the end everybody is here for the love of snow. But the one thing that really struck me as the most challenging difference was the living situation: I had no idea that there is no central heating …
Although we’ve been living together for a season now I never managed to go skiing with any of my housemates – so it came as a pleasant surprise when I met my roommate Jo on the slopes during one of my last skiing days. Jo is half Kiwi – half Filipino and is often teased for being half Asian – because she takes pictures of everything, she always does some Asian-style posing when pictures are taken and loves Asian food. But the one thing where she’s not Asian at all are her skiing skills. (Don’t want to be offensive but if you’ve ever taught Asians how to ski you know what I am talking about….)
Every serious mountain needs a mascot – our’s happens to be a Penguin that is adored by everyone, especially kids. No matter how wrong your ski class goes – whether your kids miss Mummy, get into a serious snowball fight, start crying or get run over by other kids – Pengi saves us Instructors in any situation and tears magically disappear when Pengi enters the magic carpet scene. So when it was Pengi’s Birthday Party today we knew it was going to be a huge success. But what was even better than the party (and the cake) was when Frosty and Pengi battled it out in the Fun Park. Watch it and find out who wins – Frosty even does a backflip!
Kids play an important role up here at Cardrona Alpine Resort so as Ski Instructors we get to spend a lot of time with the little people. There’s a wide range of different programs available – one of them called “The Hobbits”. This one is particularly designed for local kids who come up six sundays in a row to spend half a day on their skis. Our lovely photographer colleagues were around last Sunday to take some shots and this is what they came up with: If you’re in general interested in what our mountain looks like, how people ski here, what it’s like to work up at Cardrona check out Cardrona’s You Tube Channel.