Win­ter Games ‘most di­verse’

Central Otago Mirror - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE - DASHA KUPRIENKO

This year’s Win­ter Games will change dates and in­tro­duce new events - all to im­prove the pro­gramme, chief ex­ec­u­tive Arthur Klap says.

Win­ter Olympic, Par­a­lympic and X Games stars from 42 coun­tries will par­tic­i­pate in the Audi Qu­at­tro Win­ter Games from Au­gust 25 in Queen­stown and Wanaka.

Klap said the new pro­gramme was the most di­verse it had ever been.

The North Face Fron­tier qual­i­fier, Trans-Tas­man ice hockey series and para snow­board banked slalom were added to al­ready ex­ist­ing snow­board­ing, ski­ing and curl­ing events.

‘‘We were al­ready di­verse but this just re­ally adds an­other di­men­sion to it,’’ Klap said.

The bi­en­nial event al­lows in­ter­na­tional ath­letes to qual­ify and get more points be­fore the Olympic Games.

‘‘It’s a unique event that is un­matched with any­thing else in the world,’’ he said.

The Win­ter Games would start on the date they would nor­mally be com­pleted, due to chang­ing pat­terns in the tourism in­dus­try.

When cre­at­ing his 10-year busi­ness plan, Klap didn’t ex­pect the shoul­der sea­son in the area to shift to Septem­ber.

‘‘Ini­tially, the ad­vice we got from the ski fields was the last part of Au­gust is a shoul­der sea­son. And that’s changed, so we moved with the shoul­der sea­son.’’

The snow in Septem­ber was in per­fect con­di­tion for the skiers too.

‘‘It is not so much the amount of snow, it’s the qual­ity of snow from the com­peti­tor’s point of view,’’ Klap said.

More ski fields in Queen­stown and Wanaka had joined the games this year which was fan­tas­tic, Klap said.

The Re­mark­ables ski field and Snow Farm would be added to Cardrona Alpine Re­sort and Coronet Peak, which were the two fields host­ing games pre­vi­ously.

Fol­low­ing an agree­ment Klap signed in April last year, New Zealand will also be­come a train­ing ground for Chi­nese skiers and snow­board­ers.

Win­ter Games’ in­ter­na­tional par­tic­i­pants in­ject about $7 mil­lion into Cen­tral Otago’s econ­omy. Games or­gan­is­ers also spend about $2 mil­lion of their bud­get on busi­nesses in the area.

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