A ground breaking agreement with far reaching significance for snow sports in New Zealand was signed in Beijing last night, in the presence of Prime Minister John Key, between the Winter Games NZ Trust and the Chinese Ski Association.
The Memorandum of Understanding between the two organisations ensures the Chinese Ski Association (CSA) will use New Zealand and the Audi quattro Winter Games NZ, as their training and competition base during the northern hemisphere summers from 2017 until 2021, in the lead up to the Winter Olympics in Beijing in 2022.
Audi quattro Winter Games NZ CEO Arthur Klap, who was in China to sign the agreement, said New Zealand had the jump on the rest of the world with the creation of the ongoing and valuable relationship with the CSA.
“This is a momentous step for snow sports in New Zealand. In fact it is most unusual anywhere in the world to have a sporting organisation achieve a Memorandum of Understanding with a national sports body. It was also significant having Prime Minister John Key witness the signing, underlining the importance of the agreement.”
Winter Games NZ Trust chairman Sir Eion Edgar said the CSA recognised, by striking the agreement, that the Games are a world leader in the delivery of a quality winter sports event.
“There has been a lot of work go into the landmark deal. The Chinese do not enter into agreements like this lightly but they have made it clear they want to be closely associated with us as they build up to hosting the Winter Olympics.”
He said the Audi quattro Winter Games NZ have developed their internationally recognised reputation in a relatively short time, after launching the inaugural Games only seven years ago, in 2009.
“Prior to the Sochi Olympics we had organisers shadowing our team and at the past two events the South Koreans have sent a delegation to learn from us. This agreement with China is yet another positive step and we believe it demonstrates even further the need for the leading New Zealand snow sports event to be held annually rather than biennially.”
China is making a major investment into its ski industry and has a target of 30 million skiers and snowboarders by 2021.
Klap said while the Chinese have been granted the 2022 Winter Olympics the profile of snow sports is still quite low in China.
“This is an issue for the CSA which sees Winter Games NZ events as pivotal for promoting their leading athletes and building that profile.”
He said there are excellent benefits for the Games which includes both the CSA and Winter Games NZ seeking mutually advantageous joint sponsorships.
“The CSA will also assist us in obtaining broadcast coverage on CCTV in China during our events and in return we will help with training opportunities for Chinese snow sports teams, and provide advice and on the ground support for the organisation of snowboard and freestyle World Cups, leading up to the Beijing Winter Olympics. Chinese snow sports officials will be invited to shadow Winter Games NZ officials and we will facilitate New Zealand expertise in ski field management, snow management, grooming and technology to assist the CSA and Chinese ski resorts.”
Klap said the Memorandum of Understanding was a “win-win” for both organisations and most importantly it would put New Zealand at the forefront of the world’s ski industry in China.
“If people in China are looking at skiing overseas they will choose New Zealand. The spin-offs for Central Otago in particular will be major and worth millions of dollars to the region.”
Sport New Zealand chief executive Peter Miskimmin paid tribute to Audi quattro Winter Games NZ which have established themselves as “a key event on the global snow sports calendar”.
“It is a testament to the team at Winter Games NZ that their expertise is now being sought by the CSA in the lead up to the Beijing Winter Olympics in 2022. This partnership will deliver real benefits for both countries.”