Interview with Nicole Montgomery

Nicole originally hails from Missouri but has lived in Durango, Colorado since finishing university. She has returned for her 3rd New Zealand winter in 2019.

Tell us in a few words what you think about skiing in Selwyn, New Zealand:

Rugged, raw, wild, no whining allowed.

What would be your favorite memories when exploring the Selwyn ski areas so far?

Driving up to Olympus for the first time ever. It had just snowed about 50cm at the end of July a few years ago and the road hadn’t been cleared yet. I was heading up to work for the season there and had never experienced skiing in New Zealand, let alone at a club field. It’s one thing to drive on a snowy paved road and turn off onto a freshly plowed parking lot (like I’m used to in the states)…it’s another to drive on the side of a cliff up a steep dirt 4WD drive road with a fresh snow on it. It was an eye-opening introduction to how hardcore the clubbies are.

Another fun memory of club fields is when I skied face-first into an aircraft cable near the bullwheel at the end of a rope tow. It was overcast, so the grey colour of the cable blended into the sky and next thing I knew I was laying in the snow with blood gushing from my mouth. Like I said earlier, there is no whining at club fields, so I got up, got myself up the tow and to the hut, and threw a bag of snow on my face. The whole thing happened so discreetly that no one realized I even hurt myself until they saw me in the hut with ice on my face. Luckily, no major damage was done, just a fat lip for a week and a nice scar to tell the tale. Club fields are hardcore and unlike Colorado, unmarked hazards may be present! Lesson learned.

You are back for another season and working at Chill in Christchurch. Do you notice any differences between working in skiing-based customer service here in NZ and in the US?

I’ve seen 5 year olds in NZ run their hand through a pulley on a rope tow, cry for a minute, and then keep on skiing. I’ve also seen 5 year olds in the US cry for hours because mom dropped them off at ski school and they didn't want to ski. It’s a different breed over here, a hardcore, hard-out crew, not to mention the tight-knit club field vibes. I can roll up to Mt. Olympus alone and guaranteed I will see people I know who I can ski with. Skiing in the Colorado is amazing-some of the best snow in the world, but it attracts much more of a destination crowd, yes- crowd. In New Zealand, it’s no frill- just thrill. The people who frequent club-fields and smaller resorts here understand the “ski at your own risk” mentality and are generally just stoked to be out on the snow. Don’t get me wrong, I love skiing in Colorado and it has some amazing terrain to get lost in, but it can’t compete with the adventures you get into at the ski areas in Selwyn.

We hear Temple Basin is a ski area you are yet to and keen to ski at. Going on what you've heard and your experience mountaineering there what are your thoughts on going for the first time?

I’m stoked! After a Red Bull I’ll be ready to tackle a day full of hiking and skiing. I find that my problem (a good problem to have) with winter in New Zealand is that there are so many options. On my days off I could go ski (and I have 12 different areas to pick from on my Chill Pass), surf, bike, and the list goes on. In Colorado during winter you have one choice for winter activities: skiing. It is far too cold and snowy to be biking and we’re landlocked so there’s no surf. I enjoy the freedom here of choosing between so many activities, but I need to make a point of going to Temple to experience what the hype is all about!

What's your favorite spot for coffee in Selwyn?

The FarCanal Road bar at Mt. Olympus. Ask for a Sloppy Special.

Finally, can you recommend a pit stop for a bite in Selwyn?

A must have is a pie from the Hororata Cafe!

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