Why you should ski rain, hail, powder or shine

Tori Beattie at Treble Cone pic by Hugo Pekham

Professional ski athlete, Olympic coach and FIS judge, Tori Beattie reveals why you should ski rain, hail, powder or shine after ten days of the best powder conditions in New Zealand.

As the smell of DeepHeat wafts up from my searing quads and threatens to chemically suture the inside of my nostrils after a 10-day run of some of the best Southern Lakes ski conditions I can remember for many years, I can unequivocally say that it was totally worth it.

Its been a tough start to winter for the psychological health of your average kiwi ski fiend.

After the customary pre-winter cold blast hit us in early May and and reminded everyone to order more firewood, we were then hypnotically lulled into the warm embrace of an extended and unseasonably calm Autumn. Bike stands once again competed with waxing benches for space in the garage as we begrudgingly settled into a holding pattern that no-one quite expected to last as long as it did.

But boy has it been worth the wait! Though Old Man Winter decided to be fashionably late to the NZ skifields this year, he’s made up for lost time with one heck of an entrance now. We went from famine to feast in the space of a week at the end of July and beginning of August. Bitter cold temps and consistent dry light snow have seen resorts dressed in white to abnormally low-levels.

For a snapshot of just how good the skiing and snowboarding has been in NZ over these last 2 weeks, check out the above video we made of rarely-skied laps to the road on the frontside of Treble Cone Ski Area this past weekend. It was truly as good as it gets!

Now that I’ve stopped to catch to my breath and ponder my apathetic approach to pre-season training this year, I can’t help but wonder why we’ve been forced to endure this game of climatic snakes and ladders when I buy organic stuff now (when it’s on sale), turn my lights off (when I can remember to), and even grew my own coriander for 4 glorious planet-saving weeks this summer. So what gives?

Seasonal predictions weren’t looking stellar for New Zealand’s Southern Alps this winter as we bobbed around in a pool of unusually warm sea-surface temperatures, and looked back at the lacklustre winters that previously plagued neutral phases of the Southern Oscillation. As an Aussie or Kiwi skier, we’re all too accustomed to mentions of El Nino and La Nina when the Longterm Outlook gets released some time before the Queens Birthday weekend. But what happens when there’s No Nino?

What does it all really mean, and how much faith should you put into long term weather prediction anyway?

I’m not even going to begin to ponder the unponderable here, but instead share my philosophy on the whole thing after many years of (trying) to chase snow.

You will dramatically decrease your enjoyment of your ski season if you spend the entire time pouring over weather maps.

It will be what it will be, and you refreshing your screen every 4 hours with each re-run of the models isn’t going to change a thing. So instead, my advice is to look out the window. If it looks alright; go skiing. If it doesn’t look alright, and you still want to go skiing; then go skiing.

It wont always be sunglasses and headbands weather out there. Sometimes you’ve got to cover your body from head to toe in a technical layering system that works sensationally well until you have to go to the toilet. And that’s just one of the joys of skiing. It doesn’t cost any less when it’s crap, but it’s entirely within your power to make it just as fun.

Read more from Tori Beattie here.

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