The Audi quattro Winter Games NZ opened in style last weekend and the action on and off the slopes is set to continue until the closing ceremony on September 10.
The fifth edition of the event launched at Coronet Peak in Queenstown and athletes will compete at Cardrona and Treble Cone in Wanaka, the Naseby Curling Centre in Central Otago, Snow Farm NZ and The Remarkables.
New Zealand Prime Minister Bill 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 at the opening ceremony.
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.
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.
The Winter Games NZ are the third largest snow sports event in the world after the Winter Olympics and the X-Games.
United States Athletes get off piste in Wanaka
Some of the United States athletes took the chance to get off piste and enjoy the spectacular scenery Wanaka is known for.
US Freeski Slopestyle competitors Maggie Voisin, Nick Goepper, Mcrae Williams and snowboarder Lyon Farrell took to the skies with Aspiring Helicopters before having lunch with an incredible view over Lake Wanaka. New Zealand chef Sam Metcalfe treated the US athletes to fresh venison, barbecued to perfection.
“One of the most beautiful spots overlooking Wanaka and the lake, probably one of the most beautiful spots I’ve ever seen,” Maggie Voisin said. “We had a fantastic Kiwi lunch, absolutely phenomenal.”
Ridgeline Adventures finished the outing with a four-wheel-drive journey capping off a truly special day.
Bungy, luge and ziplines on the menu for Chinese and Korean stars
Two of China’s top women’s snowboarders Liu Jiayu and Cai Xuetong took time out to experience some of the best adventure activities Queenstown has to offer.
The two riders joined snowboarder Lee-jun Kweon and and freeskier Mee Hyun Lee of Korea as they took the famous gondola up to Skyline Queenstown. The four winter athletes jumped head first, literally, off AJ Hackett Bungy’s ‘The Ledge’. Situated 400 metres above Queenstown, the Ledge enabled the group to put their own twist on bungy Jumping as they all showed off their best flips.
The backdrop of Lake Wakatipu and the Remarkables mountain range was looking particularly spectacular from ZipTrek Ecotours ziplines as the athletes enjoyed some soft adventure after their bungy jump.
Lastly the four Winter Games stars hit the slopes, but there were no skis or snowboards in sight. Together they tackled the famous luge, one of the iconic Queenstown activities. The purpose built luge carts zoomed down 800 metres of banked corners, tunnels and dippers in what was some great practice for the athletes before they represent their countries at the Audi quattro Winter Games NZ.