Press Release 25 August 2017
Prime Minister Officially Launches Fifth Audi quattro Winter Games NZ at Coronet Peak
Prime Minister Bill English paid tribute to the entrepreneurial spirit of the organisers of the Audi quattro Winter Games NZ for creating an event from nothing and taking New Zealand to the world, when he officially opened the fifth edition of the event at Coronet Peak last night.
Mr English said it was the beauty of the Southern Lakes which gave the Games their magic and he acknowledged the 920 athletes from around the world who are competing in the Games for their professionalism, athleticism and commitment to their sport.
The highlight of the opening was the Coronet Peak night slalom raced on the shirtfront under lights and featuring top international and Kiwi ski racers.
The challenging, nail biting competition saw skiers go head-to-head before a huge crowd gathered on the ski area deck.
Swedish Olympian Andre Myhrer proved too strong for the rest of the field when he toppled Reto Schmidiger of Switzerland in the final to take the 2017 title. David Chodounsky of USA was third and Sweden’s Mattias Hargin took out fourth.
“It was a great race and qualification was tough,” said Myhrer. “While the course was difficult it was a good finish for me.”
The women’s title went to Martina Dubovska of Czech Republic who beat USA’s Patricia Mangan in a dramatic second run after their first run was declared invalid due to a start malfunction.
“It was a lot of fun to be part of the Coronet Peak night slalom,” said Dubovska who has been training in the region and is ranked 40thÂ in the world in slalom.
Third place went to Barbara Kantorova of Slovakia with New Zealand’s national team member Piera Hudson in fourth.
“It was class racing from an international field and it is exciting for the Games to stage the Coronet Peak night slalom for the second time. The big numbers of people it has attracted to watch reinforces that this is a showcase event of a very high calibre,” said Winter Games NZ CEO Arthur Klap.
To mark the official opening young skiers from the Queenstown Alpine Ski Team skied down Coronet Peak carrying flags representing the 39 countries participating in the Games. A Maori welcome was followed by a kapa haka performance by Arrowtown school children while a stunning fireworks display closed the ceremony.
Winter Games NZ Trust chairman Eion Edgar thanked the Government through its Major Events Development Fund, Audi Germany and Audi New Zealand, along with other sponsors, for their support in making the Games a reality.
He said the Winter Games NZ are the third largest snow sports event in the world after the Winter Olympics and the X-Games and the Queenstown and Wanaka communities will benefit significantly from this year’s event with 35,000 bed nights booked in the region.
Queenstown Lakes mayor Jim Boult said the Games are a spectacular event.
“When we stage something like this and it warrants our Prime Minister Bill English coming here to open it we know we have hit top level.”
Competition at the Audi quattro Winter Games NZ begins tomorrow and will run until September 9.