Snow Sports NZ and Winter Games NZ announced today that they will combine resources to host the first stop of the 2009/10 LG FIS Snowboard World Cup Halfpipe tour by scheduling the competition as one of the signature events of Winter Games NZ 2009.
As one of the final qualifiers leading up to the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, the event is expected to showcase what may be the strongest field of riders ever assembled for a non-Olympic halfpipe competition.
“This is a tremendous boost for Winter Games 2009,” said Winter Games NZ CEO Arthur Klap. “Virtually all of the world’s top halfpipe riders will be here to compete against the best New Zealand has to offer.”
The event is scheduled to take place in the Southern Hemisphere’s only Olympic-size, 22-foot halfpipe at Cardrona Alpine Resort near Wanaka. Qualifying heats are scheduled for 25 August, with the finals set for the 26th.
“I can’t think of a better way to showcase New Zealand’s top talent,” said Snow Sports New Zealand CEO Ross Palmer. “With the combined support of the International Ski Federation, Winter Games NZ and Snow Sports NZ, this competition is likely to be one of the highlights of the entire event.”
Tom Willmott, Head Coach of the New Zealand Halfpipe Team, said the increased stature of the competition provides an opportunity for New Zealand riders to shine on the international stage.
“We’re looking forward to using the event as a test piece in our Olympic buildup, so we expect top performances from our New Zealand riders in a truly world-class field,” Willmott said.
Five New Zealand riders, including Juliane Bray (Wanaka); Rebecca Sinclair (Wanaka); Kendall Brown (Mt. Manganui); James Hamilton (Auckland); and Ben Stewart (Whangamata); have all met New Zealand’s criteria to compete in the upcoming Winter Olympics.
“They simply need to maintain their rankings in the final World Cup competitions,” said Willmott. Two others, Paula Mitchell and Mitchell Brown, are also contenders for spots on the New Zealand Olympic team, he said.
The only event of its kind outside the Winter Olympics, Winter Games NZ will feature more than 800 of the world's top athletes competing in over 30 events ranging from ski racing to curling, snowboarding to skating as well as a full adaptive skiing programme.
Many of the medal winners on the podium in Vancouver in 2010 will have honed their skills on the slopes of the Southern Alps, whether in the halfpipe, on the race course or the ice rink. The ten-day long Games also include plenty of off-snow activities for spectators and athletes with live music and entertainment in downtown Queenstown and Wanaka.
Winter Games NZ will take place at Coronet Peak, The Remarkables, Cardrona Alpine Resort, Snow Farm, Naseby and Dunedin from 21-30 August 2009. It will feature disciplines of alpine skiing, free skiing, x-country skiing, snowboarding, curling, ice skating and adaptive snow sports as well as the demonstration sports of winter triathlon and natural luge. For further information visit www.wintergamesnz.com.
Snow Sports New Zealand (SSNZ) is the official governing body and National Sports Organisation representing all snow sports in New Zealand.