With elite athletes back in town and plying the ski fields of the Queenstown Lakes region, New Zealand’s southern mountains are once again the off-season training destination of choice for many northern hemisphere skiers and snowboarders. A raft of international ski and snowboard teams are confirmed to train and compete at local ski fields this winter, including the US Men’s alpine ski team which is currently based in Queenstown. Cardrona Alpine Resort is set to host Germany, Slovakia, Britain, US, France, Korea, Belgium, Australia, Spain, China and New Zealand, while the Austria women’s ski team will be at Treble Cone. Snow Park NZ will host Holland, Poland, Italy and Finland teams, and Russia, Norway, Germany, Switzerland, Canada, Austria, Sweden, Japan and New Zealand national teams will be seen at Coronet Peak.
FIS World Cups - Winter snow sports professionals are at centre stage this week at Cardrona Alpine Resort for the FIS Snowboard (22.08.2012) and Freestyle Ski Halfpipe World Cups (25 - 26.08.2012). Some 200-plus athletes representing 26 nations will battle it out in Cardrona’s 22ft superpipe for a combined prize pool of NZ$115,000. The skiers and riders will be performing a creative mix of tricks, flips, back-to-back rotations and big air grabs guaranteeing high adrenalin action. Snow stars competing include current FIS World Cup Champion Benoit Valentin (FRA), AFP Overall World Champions Gus Kenworthy and Devin Logan (USA), Tanner Hall (USA), and five times European Open Champion Virginie Faivre (SUI).
Kiwi stars include Jossi Wells, Lyndon Sheehan, Janina Kuzma and Rose Battersby. The all-star snowboard field includes World Snowboarding Champion gold medallist and multiple X Games medallist Iouri Podladtchikov (SWI), World Cup champion Nathan Johnstone (AUS), Bronze Olympic medal holder Ryo Aono (JPN) and Scott Lago (USA). The women’s field includes nine of the top 10 Olympic field on the start list including gold medallist Torah Bright (AUS) and 2012 Winter X Games gold medallist Kelly Clark (USA), fresh from her win of the Burton High Fives last week. Representing New Zealand will be Ben Stewart, James Hamilton and Rebecca Sinclair.
The US Men’s alpine ski team is based in Queenstown for a four-week ‘summer’ training programme. The training team includes Olympic gold medallist, World Champion and three-time World Cup giant slalom champion Ted Ligety, Olympian and World Cup podium finisher Nolan Kasper and Olympic US athletes Will Brandenburg, Tim Jitloff and Tommy Ford. The US Women’s ski team has also just completed their training camp in New Zealand. US head men's technical coach, Mike Day says the Southern Lakes region is perfect for his team’s summer training, and critical to their success for the next Winter Games NZ and Winter Olympics. "Queenstown provides excellent mountain facilities, Coronet Peak create a high quality snow surface for us to train on and there is also a fantastic mix of off-mountain activities," Day said.
New Zealand holds the competitive advantage during the northern hemisphere’s summer when the world’s elite snowboarders and skiers need somewhere to train and compete. International athletes and teams are attracted to the region which, as part of the World Cup competition circuits, each year hosts some prestigious international snow sport events. Winter Games NZ 2013 - which is expected to attract over 1000 athletes - will be staged at a crucial time for snow athletes, six months out from the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. This will be one of the last chances for athletes to accrue important qualifying points.
Source: Tourism New Zealand