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Previous Issues:

Issue 58 - 09 November 2011
Issue 57 - 09 September 2011
Issue 56 - 04 August 2011
Issue 55 - 14 July 2011
Issue 54 - 16 June 2011
Issue 53 - 16 May 2011
Issue 52 - 09 April 2011
Issue 51 - 02 March 2011

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ISSUE 59         Monday 12 MARCH 2012...

Welcome to Issue of 59 Manganui Notes, the e-newsletter of Manganui Ski Area and Stratford Mountain Club.

The recent low level snow...reminding us winter is not far daughter said to me ski was keen for a ski now...must be autumn!

See below for an update on SMC and NZ SKI team member Finlay Neeson's northern hemisphere winter to date...and also an article on drag lifts, the staple of Manganui Ski Area

In this issue...

Contact Us:
06-759 4609
New Plymouth

Get all your winter gear here.
New season Icebreaker now in store.
Season Rental now available!

Kiwi Outdoors Centre
18 Ariki Street,  New Plymouth
Phone and Fax (06) 7584152


4 Mustang Dve Bell Block
New Plymouth
phone and fax (06)755 0005


GOINGS ONí Around the Manganui Ski Area

2011 AGM - new Committee

The following have been elected to positions on the 2012 committee:
Vice President - JACK CRAN
Treasurer - DEAN RAVIN
Upper Lifts Convenor - BEN PLUMMER
Junior Ski Racing and Training - CLIVE SALEMAN

Ski Area Pics - Working Bee Sunday

that is snow on the access track just past the gorge!

Manganui Metservice weatherstation historical data now available on

this time last year I reported this; the data is now reporting fully. Interested to know what wind/rain/temps that Manganui gets? then check it out. No snow sorry - we don't have technology to accurately record snowfall automatically, as yet!
You will notice some gaps in longer term historical data; our weatherstation has had outages over the last few years due to hardware and comms issues.

Metservice have added historical weather data from Manganui Ski Area to its New Plymouth City, Airport and Hawera data.

You can find the Manganui Ski Area data under the New Plymouth Ten Day Forecast, in the past weather pull down.
Use the pull down tab to select Manganui Ski Area.

supporting SMC junior ski racing and training




Remember, a working bee qualifier is now applied to 'discounted' member season passes. Working bees are required to be completed by 31 May to qualify for the 'discounted' season pass rate, otherwise full price season pass rate applies. 1 member working bee still qualifies for 1 free nights accommodation at SMC Lodge, or 1 free days skiing, whichever you chose.


Date (Sunday)


Contact numbers Working Bee tasks
March 11

Mario Padrutt Christian Padrutt


  •  T-bar mowing trial
  • Machinery maintenance
  • General lower field clean up
March 18

Dave Smithers
Ben Plummer


  • Top Tow maintenance (safety fence maintenance, Meadows returns repairs, repair tow line ramp)
  • Lower field rail slides (remove/repair)
March 25

Rhys Williams
Nick Brown


  • Warwick Brown bldg (paint exterior block walls, and doors)
  • T-bar towers sanding/painting
  • Lower field erosion

April 01

Mike Reeve
Dean Ravin



  • Warwick Brown bldg (paint exterior block walls, and doors)
  • T-bar towers sanding/painting
  • Lower field erosion
April 08
(Easter Weekend)

Lars Binsbergen
Jack Cran


  • Warwick Brown bldg (paint exterior block walls, and doors)
  • T-bar towers sanding/painting
  • Lower field erosion
April 15

Justin Keenan
Nick Brown


  • General lower field clean up/erosion management
  • Top Tow maintenance (safety fence maintenance, Meadows returns repairs, repair tow line ramp)
  • Operations computers/network set up and test
April 22

Dave Smithers
Ben Plummer


  • Top Tow maintenance (safety fence maintenance, Meadows returns repairs, repair tow line ramp)
  • Learners tow out
April 29

Lars Binsbergen
Morgan Davies


  • Ski Patrol prep/maintenance
  • Tidy up Patrol Room
May 06

Jenni Fletcher
Rob Needs


  • Set up POS system & stock ticket office/canteen
  • Canteen pre-season work (cleaning, organisation and stock-take, till & ticket pre-season prep)
May 13 Mike Reeve
Jack Cran


  • T-Bar Maintenance (spring box repairs, T's on T-Bar)
  • Flying Fox maintenance.
May 20

Lars Binsbergen
Rhys Williams


  • Staff and Volunteer Staff Training (tbc)

May 27

Dean Ravin
Morgan Davies


  • Outstanding work from above tasks
June 03 (Queen's

Rob Needs
Justin Keenan


  • Outstanding work from above tasks
  • Webcam maintenance, testing
June 10
  • Contingency

Participation in scheduled working bees gets you ability to purchase a discounted season pass, as well as a working bee ticket. This ticket be exchanged for a lift pass, or accommodation at the Manganui Lodge, should you already hold an SMC season pass [working bee ticket is valid till the opening day of the following season].


SMC acknowledges support given by NZ Community Trust, towards Safety Services Coordinator wages for last season.

SMC acknowledges support given by Pub Charity, for the new Ski-doo purchased last season.



Hi my name is Rhys Williams and I am your new President for 2012/13, having been VP for the last several years.

Iím keen to keep the club running more economically and would like to strive to continually improve our member and customer services, keeping you more informed using the latest technology on offer.
The committee now has some new faces, but we have also lost a few who have helped over the years. Thank you to those past committee members for your efforts.  You can check out the new team on our contacts page.

March signals the start of our Working Bee programme.  Working Bees drive our club and it is essential for our economic survival to have member support so we can complete the pre-season tasks without incurring huge bills that we cannot afford.
Being part of voluntary workforce can be fun, gets you in touch with like-minded people and helps you save money by qualifying for a discounted season pass. We have a solid list of jobs Ė remember many hands make light work and will get things done before the snow arrives.

Talking about snow - how was that weather bomb?   The gale force winds took out the power at the field for 4 days!  Snow touched the T-bar and coated the upper top tow. Itís a bit early but Iím not complaining if itís a good omen for the season to come!
The ski club needs your continued support.  You can be a great help simply by paying your subs promptly so we can make the best use of the income.  So please write that cheque or use internet banking to pay your sub as soon as possible when your invoice arrives. 
Iím very open to comments and queries from our members, so please feel free to give me a call.  And if you have an idea or suggestion to help the club move forward, Iím all ears.
Hope to see you on our beautiful mountain very soon...

Rhys Williams

Madwax is stocked at Kiwi Outdoors Centre and at Vertigo SH45


The SMC committee has and or is working on a number of projects this year.
These includeÖ

  • working bees - planning and organisation
  • Vegetation Report, requirements, planning and funding applications
  • Ski Area Assests Insurance premium payments - action on measures to counter ever increasing costs
  • Safety Services - employment of level 2 snow safety officer
  • Groomer maintenance - new tracks installed



I have been based in the USA since November 20th with the Sugar Bowl Ski Team (Head coach Guenther Birgmann).
 We started the season off with a month of training and preparation in Colorado, skiing between Loveland, Breckenridge and Copper and battling temperatures as low as -40 celcius. I then got invited to the USA National development system training camp, this was a good experience to train with the best in US, it was also good to show how Kiwi's do it by posting the fastest times throughout the camp.

 I made a significant equipment change in the late year, by switching from the standard plastic Atomic race boot to the rare full carbon fibre DODGE ski boot, they are made in the US by Dave Dodge and Bill Doble, this saw significant improvements in my skiing. You can find more information about this sensational technology at

DODGE ski boots - $US1500 approx 

We then progressed through to late December where our schedule was packed with elite races.
Our first stop was Steamboat, CO. where we had the Christmas Classic slalom series. The results showed, as I scored a career best result of 43 FIS points, finished 1st for 1993 born athletes and 4th in the U20's.

Next stop was after new years at Jackson Hole, WY.
This again was a great success as I scored more career best in Giant Slalom by placing 3rd overall and 2nd U20 with a FIS point result of 40.14. Sugar Bowl Ski Team ended up taking the podium sweep with my teammates Derek Strand of Park City, UT and Adam Barwood of Queenstown, finishing a few hundreths in front of myself.

Winterpark Colorado made for some tough races as I started in the middle of the field with the top NCAA College (University) athletes from across the world.
I secured a top 25 finish from bib 60 in the giant slalom which was satisfying given the snow conditions and calibre of athletes. In the slalom I once again moved from bib 55 to 33rd after the 1st run, narrowly missing the top 30 for 2nd run meaning I had to once again battle the ruts and berms of world cup athletes.

At this point 18 hour inter-state hauls were becoming the norm and it had been a few months since we had touched home soil in sunny California, so a week at home in Lake Tahoe before Park City and Snowbird races was much enjoyed.
We once again packed up the trailer, with 30 pairs of skis and headed to Utah for the Park  City and Snowbird races.
Racing on the insanely steep Giant Slalom hill at Park City from the 2002 Olympics made for some fun, I skied well in the giant slalom posting a 47 FIS point result and beating the entire Canadian Devo Team (my age) was another bonus, securing myself a 16th place result (among top NCAA athletes and US ski team athlete and world cup racer Nolan Kasper).

Snowbird Slalom races turned into a big mountain competition with a solid 2-3 feet of snow over night.  Tough conditions and walked away with a 47 points result.

The North American cup at Vail, CO, brought out pros to show their face.
This meant for another intense race series, in the slalom i drew bib 77 and was able to half that ending up in 34th position. I was stoked with this result considering the level and quantity of professional athletes among the race. I look forward to being competitive in this tough league in the next year.

I am now at the end of February and have scored more career best results at Snow King, WY and Squaw Valley, CA. Grabbing myself a 42.91 and a 42.95 FIS points result and a 4th equal at Snow King and a 3rd at Squaw Valley in the J1/MID division.

I continue racing here until April 15th, then I roll into winter in NZ based at Treble Cone.
Can't wait to sneak in a few Top Tow days and catch up with the club this coming season.

Bring on Winter!

Finlay Neeson
New Zealand Mens Ski Team








Feature Article


As Gondolas and Chairlifts continue to gain popularity in ski resorts, is there still a place for the traditional drag lift on the slopes?
Those people who study the number of new lifts being installed each summer, as well as the total number of ski lifts claimed by leading resorts, may reach 3 main conclusions.
First, fewer new lifts are being built; second, most of those new lifts are either chairlifts or gondolas; and third, the number of drag lifts, surface tows, T-bars, handle tows, Platters, Pomas, whatever you call them- is falling. Why?
During the rapid expansion of ski areas, particularly in Europe during the 1980s, the quickest nod most affordable way to open new terrain was with drag lifts. IN the other two booming markets of that era - Japan and the USA - there was a greater emphasis on the quality of experience rather than the extent terrain, and fewer drag lifts were installed.

Crans Montana T-bar

Over the past few decades, the expansion of lift-served terrain has almost ended in Europe and the main areas of competition  have shifted to price, variety and quality of experience. Chairlifts and gondolas usually fit that business model better than aging drag lifts.

Exception - Round Hill, new nutcracker installed for 2010 season.

"After all, guests pay primarily for the overall experience, not for the technology. When the customer says, 'That's a fantastic lift!', then the installation works as a marketing tool," suggests Jacob Falkner from Austria's Gaislachkoglbahn, while discussing the installation of a new gondola, which can carry a record breaking 3,600 passengers and hour.
The numbers can be seen most clearly with the giant ski areas. The lift count at Dolomiti Superski in Italy peaked at about 485 lifts a decade ago, but this has now dropped by 7% to nearer 450, while its total hourly uplift capacity has increased, along with the speed and comfort of its lifts as individual ski areas invest in better gondolas and chairs to replace drag lifts.
This search for a better-quality experience extends to the nursery slopes, where first-timers to snowsports feared the first ride on the the drag lift perhaps more than falling on their first slide down the slope. In fact, drag lifts may be responsible for stopping a proportion of people from ever progressing beyond day one on the slopes.
Although some resorts install slow-loading chairlifts to avoid this, the most popular new lift type of the past decade has been the easy and unintimidating magic carpet, which has sent many nursery slope drag lifts to the scrapyard.

Manganui's T-bar - Isaac Petersen Art

Better for the environment

Another significant advantage of replacing drag lifts with gondolas or chairlifts is that they are usually better for the environment. First of all, replacing several lifts with one reduces the amount of land upon which towers need to be erected. And second, the number of towers required for each lift continues to reduce as technology advances. Some of the biggest recent installations, such as Poma's Vanoise Express linking Les Arcs and La Plagne and Doppelmayrs' Peak 2 Peak gondola at Whistler Blackcomb, have remarkably few support towers considering their great length.
Drag lifts have also had a hard time adapting to the more diverse range of snowsports now sought by ski resort clients. The growth of snowboarding initially highlighted the limitations of drag lifts for anyone other than skiers

(is this why Turoa is more popular than Whakapapa for snowboarders, for accessing the top of the mountain?), 

 and the arrival of myriad of other sliding sports on the slopes has further highlighted these issues. Again, the conveyor lift and chair or gondola lifts can be used more safely and comfortably for a far wider range of sports.
They can also operate all year round regardless of snow cover, can be used by any resort client in any season, including disabled users and babies in buggies, and a far more in keeping with the modern-day business plan of a year-round mountain resort than the humble drag lift.
Some of the first drag lifts to be replaced wire those at lower elevations linking resort bases and car parks to higher slopes above. In some cases, having only overland links to upper slopes could prove disastrous when snow cover was poor. Without a chairlift, gondola or funicular to transport users over thawed slopes of grass or earth, some ski centers were unable to operate.

Weather considerations

One area in which drag lifts do outperform most gondolas and chairlifts is that they are less affected by adverse weather conditions, particularly strong winds, which is one of the reasons that they remain so widely used in Scandanavia (and NZ!).
Other lift types are competing, however. SunKid, the conveyor lift company, has reported marked success with its removable transparent weather protection 'gallery' tunnels, which it can build over its conveyor lifts, meaning that users can essentially ascend the slope 'indoors'. An extreme case of this can be found at the Jungfraujoch at nearly 3,500m above the Grindelwald and Wengen in Switzerland, where peak gusts of up to 220km/hr have been recorded and there are extreme temperature fluctuations, and a lift is required on the ice of a constantly shifting glacier.
The firmly anchored 'gallery'  here was rapidly buried beneath the snow, so the site operator declared that a weatherproof tunnel was a much better solution than the former drag lift.
Despite the fact that drag lifts may not fit with the modern service-oriented onus of ski resorts, there are further advantages other than their stability in strong winds - they're also the most affordable and easy-to-install lifts for most ski areas.

case in point: Manganui's Top Tow; able to operate in strong winds

In addition, lifts expert Chris Exall, a member of the COmmission of the Education and Examination of Ski Instructors, sees another advantage in people learning to use the drag lifts: "The flipside to the growth in carpet lifts that a skier or boarder is not learning to balance when ascending on these sliding platforms. RIding the drag lift, once you've mastered the basics, can be a useful learning experience that contributes to your skiing ability."
Despite the two-pronged attack on drag lifts from conveyor lifts below and chairlifts or gondolas above, it will be al long time before all drag lifts are removed from the world's ski slopes. An estimated 15,000 remain operational - still more than any other type of ski lift.
In the 1980s, there was much talk of eradicating  all t-bar lifts (widely used in Austria, Switzerland and Scandanavia, and NZ, and generally regarded as the least popular type) and the button-type lifts found more commonly in France and Italy. However, the decline in these lifts has been slow, and although their numbers may continue to dwindle, it seems unlikely that while there are still people wanting to ski and snowboard the day will ever come when drag lifts have been completely superseded.
However, many skiers and boarders in North America and Japan have so far managed to avoid the drag lift, since they are rarely installed in these countries, and those who don't like using them can increasingly avoid them in Europe as well, since an ever-higher percentage of slopes are served by overhead lifts.
So the time when drag lifts are considered, like 2m long straight skis, to be a relic of the past, may not be too far off, and may even be with us already at some resorts.

Ski resorts by numbers

The number of ski lifts in the world depends, of course, on the number of ski areas in the world and the exact number of those is a little bit hazy. If we count a place with at least one ski lift as a 'ski area', research company Snow24 reports it has located just over 6,000 such ski areas in 80 countries worldwide over the past 20 years.
'On the one hand, new ski areas are opening in countries such as China, Russia and Turkey; on the other, many small village drag lifts in the Alps and Scandinavia have probably ceased to function and not been replaced over the past few decades," says Sally Brookes, a director of Snow24, who believes those new centers opening in Asia may just about cancel out the numbers closing in Europe.
"If we look at the places with five or more lifts - that is places that begin to be destination resorts - the figures are equally inconclusive if you search for trends. There are just over 1,800 on this scale," she says. Only a small number fail every year, with the new resorts opening in Asia (with the exception of Japan, itself a declining winter-sports market) just about canceling out the slowly declining numbers in Europe and North America.

source - Patrick Thorne, Winter Sports Technology International November 2011.


If you would like to post a classified advert (buy/sell gear etc), please post it on the SMC  'Garage Sale' page of our website.


March snowfall on the top tow, Sunday 4th

Woiking Bees are underway once more!
SMC Management
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