Michael Sharwood had the last ski run of his life all worked out: a run down the Blackcomb Glacier on his 80th birthday.
Like many of the best laid plans it didn’t eventuate as what seemed to be the most innocuous of falls ended his skiing days three years short in January this year.
But Michael doesn’t want your sympathy. He’s skied 110 resorts over 52 years. He’s travelled the world. He’s made life long friends. He conceived (well, conceived of!) his only daughter on a chairlift in Aspen.
This is his story. And a thank you to the sport he loves so much.
Remarkable – just not open, that’s all. Pic: The Remarkables Facebook
If you ever needed a torchlight shone on the best and worst thing about skiing or snowboarding in New Zealand, mark September 8 down as Exhibit A.
Almost two feet of fresh snow. Superb mountains. A picture perfect place to base yourself in like Queenstown.
And the resort that is supposed to take you to heaven?
Anthony Sharwood doing some spring preparation on the Lake Run, Portillo. Pic: Glenn Cullen
September and October don’t have to be no-man’s (or woman’s) land for skiers and snowboarders looking for somewhere to ride.
These are my top five resorts to ride around the globe that will be rocking for another three to seven weeks so there’s plenty of time to get you fill before the northern hemisphere winter starts.
All resorts listed are based on current conditions and my first hand experience, well except for one place I haven’t got to quite yet …
Coronet Peaked? A lovely shot @backpackingmatt / Matt Kyhnn from Instagram. Pity about the snow, bro …
Sure they’ve won the last 239 Bledisloe Cups, have a government instead of a transit lounge and even enjoy cheaper beer.
But have you noticed just how quiet things have got in New Zealand when talk turns to snow right now?
Why, pray tell, I hear you ask? Because they’ve got none! And as Australians revel in a season that’s expected to just get better and better the word from the experts is that things may even get worse for our Kiwi cousins …
1. Thank God for snowmaking!
Snowmaking: Unsurprisingly again set to play a key role in the Southern Hemisphere season. Pic: Thredbo Resort
2. Do we need to reconsider the opening weekend based on conditions?
Plenty of resorts around the world only turn the lifts when there’s enough snow. In Australia we’re slavishly locked into the June long weekend. Worth it just for the party or do you baulk at having to pay serious coin for a day pass for very limited riding?
Party time at Thredbo. Enough to constitute an opening weekend? Pic: Thredbo Resort
Porters resort near Christchurch. Criminally underrated – but for much longer?
Been skiing or snowboarding in Porters, New Zealand? Even heard of Porters?
About 80km from downturn Christchurch, this place has plenty going for it already but its master plan is an absolute ball-tearer that would make it the best destination resort in New Zealand.
An expansion with chairlift into the Crystal Valley (to more than double the terrain) is earmarked as the next development.
Then there’s a gondola from the valley floor, accommodation in a year-round village for up to 3400 people, shops, restaurants and hot pools and new chairlifts for the expansion area and existing ski basin.