Article Title:Friendships and down-to-earth fun in Queenstown
Author or Credit:Jay Bennie
Published on:30th August 2016 - 05:50 pm
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Story ID:18729
Text:It's the socialising as much as the skiing that brings Mark Carrick back to Gay Ski Week QT year after year. Carrick, reveling today in spectacularly fine, crystal clear alpine weather, was previously a regular at Sydney's glbti Mardi Gras. But after two decades of that massively concentrated experience he started to be less enchanted. "For me it was becoming a repetitive, shallow and expensive experience," he laughs. Gay Ski Week QT became available to fill the gap. "It's more down to earth, I can hang out with friends, meet all sorts of people, revisit my usual haunts, hit the slopes... and Queenstown's a spectacular place to be," he says. "And I can be here for over a week and go skiing and partying for the same cost as being in Sydney for just a few days." But socialising with "all sorts of people" is not his primary focus... he's a "top end of intermediate" skilled skier and the excellent skifields just short drives from Queenstown are a major attraction. "I love Cardrona with its big, rolling areas to explore, and Coronet Peak for its variety," he says. This year he's using a combined pass to the Coronet and Remarkables fields but will be off to an event tomorrow at Cardrona, above nearby Wanaka. "They put on ski guides up there for different skill levels and it's a perfect place for striking up friendships in the lift queues or the restaurant." There's not been much fresh snow recently but fields such as Coronet are night-time spectacles as floodlights catch the huge snow-making machines jetting plumes of artificial snow to augment the natural stuff. "It's softening a bit and getting a bit mushy towards the ends of the day," he says, but that's still ok." But skiing aside, Carrick loves socialising and what he smilingly calls "romancing" with people from the southern South Island and overseas visitors alike. "There's a small but sociable group of people from around here" and friends he's made "from Wanaka and Cromwell who always make me welcome... there's no pretense or pretension." The Gay Ski Week QT opening party at the weekend was lots of fun, he says, "checking out who's arrived, what flights they were on, the music was great and it's always a great chance to start flirting." He's done the Ship's Ahoy boat party which cruised on Lake Wakatipu in a catamaran, he'll be at Friday night's Foam Party and he's got his outfit ready for the closing costume party on Saturday night... for which he will channel his inner-Olympian to be an evil female Russian gymnast. Jay Bennie - 30th August 2016    
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