If you visited Ohau Snow Fields during August and saw some skiers who put you to shame, don’t feel bad.
They were probably some of the best in the world.
The US Ski Team has used Ohau as a winter training base, during the northern hemisphere’s summer, for the past several years and 2019 was no exception.
Ohau Snow Fields owner-operator Mike Neilson said the US teams were divided up based on what event they were preparing for, and stayed at the lodge for most of August.
Preparing the snow was a “huge job”, Neilson said.
“We have to make snow on it, then we groom it and then we ice it – they like it hard and fast.
“It is almost like skating on skis, not what you and I would consider enjoyable.”
Having the US team stay raised the profile of Ohau Snow Fields.
The US Ski Team’s website has featured articles about the “magic of Ohau” and two-time Olympic gold medalist Ted Ligety has posted several videos and photos of his 2019 training at Ohau to his more than 283,000 followers on Facebook and Instagram.
Ligety has become a regular at Ohau.
“Ted is very good, he did the prizegiving at our interschools,” Neilson said.
“They are always very helpful in chatting to our locals and providing inspiration.”
But the team’s visit did not come without problems and required a lot of preparation, Neilson said.
“It is encroaching on the general field, we have to close off where the training course is.
“We tend to have them for weekdays only, but that is not always the case.”
The US team liked the course, and snowfield manager Craig Ovenden had been involved in grooming at the locations of the past three Winter Olympic Games.
The 2019 season had been a good one, with plenty of snow still around, Neilson said.