Ben Yorston spent Tuesday night sleeping in a tent at -8 degrees Celsius to prove to his ex-girlfriend that he truly is a hero.
The 25-year-old venture capitalist, from Christchurch, took first place in the chair at Mt Hutt for the ninth time this year.
He also decided to round out the trio of NZski-owned champs at the season opener – heading to Queenstown for the Remarkables opening on June 23 and again for the Coronet Peak opening on Wednesday.
He did an overnight run in the mountains on Tuesday, with only the blanket on his father’s couch and around 14 vitamin C tablets to support him as he pitched his tent in the ski area around 7 p.m.
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No one else showed up until 5 a.m., so he easily got a new premier T-shirt on the chair – his 14th.
“I’m still recovering from my freezing night,” he said late Wednesday afternoon.
“It’s an excuse to go camping. I wouldn’t be hanging out in the middle of a field if there was nothing to do.
“Some people spend $ 300 to go to Rarotonga. I spend $ 300 on gasoline to sleep on a chairlift.
Part of his motivation this year was also to get revenge on his ex-girlfriend.
The couple were essentially engaged, but she was cheating on him, he said.
“I got this huge guy out of my bed and got beaten up by him.”
He knew she was always watching the 6pm news, so he was determined to be in the first lift on Mount Hutt to be on TV and look like he was enjoying his life.
“So that she could realize how much of a hero I was,” he said.
He felt he had now finished his own Olympics, getting the first T-shirt on the Three Mountain Chair.
He was looking for fans and was approached by several skiers at Coronet Peak during the day and had previously been invited to be a club ground ambassador.
Yorston planned to spend as many days skiing as possible during the season among his jobs as a real estate photographer, running an evening rental business and real estate developer.
About 1,300 people were on Coronet Peak to enjoy the blue skies and fresh snow on opening day.
Coronet Peak Ski Area Manager Nigel Kerr was delighted to run the chairlifts 10 days after the originally scheduled opening.
“It was great to see everyone here today doing a few laps,” he said.
The conditions were “pretty good” at the start of the season and the snow was “a real treat, dry and grippy”.
The first night skiing of the season also took place on Wednesday.
A special Saturday night ski party featuring the Crown Rangers and a day of mountain fun on Sunday would take place as part of Queenstown’s Welcome to Winter celebration.