The Audi quattro Winter Games NZ 2015 dual night slalom at Coronet Peak on Friday 21 August has leapt to another level with confirmation that current Olympic giant slalom gold medallist and World Champion giant slalom title holder, American ace Ted Ligety, will be in the start gates.
“Ligety joins fellow countrywoman Mikaela Shiffrin, who is the Sochi slalom gold medallist and World Champion and World Cup slalom titleholder, in the strong dual slalom line-up,” said Winter Games NZ CEO Arthur Klap. “To have not just one but two world champion skiers appearing is incredible for the Games and for alpine racing in New Zealand. We couldn’t have hoped for a better outcome for our inaugural Coronet Peak Night Slalom.”
Ligety is presently training at Round Hill ski field at Tekapo with the US men’s team.
“We have organised to fly Ted and other team members, including reigning US Alpine Slalom Champion David Chodounsky, from Tekapo to Coronet Peak by helicopter on Friday afternoon to race in the night slalom,” said Klap.
Vancouver Olympian Tommy Ford who competed at the Winter Games NZ in 2009 and placed fourth in the ANC (Australia New Zealand Cup) giant slalom will also be on board the helicopter along with US team mates Michael Ankeny and Tim Kelley who are prominent on the alpine circuit.
US Ski Team World Cup Multi Head Coach Forest Carey, who works directly with Ligety, said Ligety and the other Americans entered in the Coronet Peak Night Slalom are upbeat about competing. “Our athletes put in a lot of effort with their training and it is good for them to have the chance to race in the cash prize night slalom. The Audi quattro Winter Games NZ is recognised as a quality event and there is growing awareness of its place on the international circuit.”
The Coronet Peak night slalom, which is being raced under lights on the Shirtfront, carries $30,000 in prize money and both the men’s and women’s races have attracted international fields.
A further achievement for Winter Games NZ is the support from the International Ski Federation (FIS) demonstrated by the planned presence of FIS Secretary-General Sarah Lewis during the event. She is a former member of the British Alpine ski team and Olympic representative and was appointed to her current role with FIS in 2000.
Klap said Lewis’ involvement with Winter Games NZ is an acknowledgement of how the event is viewed amongst the top echelon of winter sports.
“It is evidence of how the Games are seen by the international snow sports fraternity, particularly in terms of our administration and the quality of athletes attracted to compete in the Southern Lakes based events.”