One of the world’s top five international winter sports events takes centre stage in the Southern Lakes later this month. Wanaka, Queenstown and Naseby play host to Audi quattro Winter Games New Zealand, which showcases the most talented elite athletes in skiing, snowboarding, ice hockey and curling.
Beginning on Friday 24 August with a spectacular opening ceremony in Wanaka, Winter Games NZ is aiming to build on the growing national interest in snow sports and the higher profile it is currently enjoying. That is largely thanks to teenage sensations Zoi Sadowski-Synnott and Nico Porteous, who both won bronze medals for New Zealand at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang in South Korea in February. The two young Wanaka residents are confirmed starters for Winter Games NZ and are bound to captivate the audience again with their flips and tricks, as they did in Pyeongchang.
The glamour event of Winter Games NZ is the FIS (International Ski Federation) Junior Freestyle Ski and Snowboard World Championships, held at Cardrona Alpine Resort near Wanaka. It’s a prestigious competition expected to attract an impressive international lineup and new Games Chief Executive Marty Toomey is excited at the prospect.
“The cream of the world’s young talent will compete, along with our own leading junior freeskiers and snowboarders,” Marty says. “And we will undoubtedly see many of them on the podium in 2022 at the Beijing Olympic Winter Games.”
Audi quattro Winter Games NZ runs from 24 August to 8 September. For the full sports programme and other events, visit www.wintergamesnz.kiwi.
Four Southern Lakes ski areas will open soon, heralding a winter of thrills and spills on the slopes. Here’s a taste of what skiers and boarders can expect… after all, it’s all downhill from here.
The Remarkables is extending its learner terrain by a massive 70 percent this season, as well as installing a new conveyor to access the area. Ski Area Manager Ross Lawrence believes this will significantly improve the experience for novice riders. “The learner experience is about progression, so providing another step will get guests feeling even more comfortable and capable as they gradually move up the mountain.”
Remarkables Snow Sports Academy will also continue. The freeski and snowboard development programmes offer season-long and school holiday courses for children aged 6-18. For those who love jumps and bumps, there are extensive freestyle features across three dedicated terrain parks. The Remarkables is a 40-minute drive from Queenstown and three-quarters of the road is now sealed.
Coronet Peak offers the longest skiing hours in the Southern Lakes. Mornings start with First Tracks, when earlybirds can watch the sun rise as they glide down freshly-groomed trails against the backdrop of panoramic views of Lake Wakatipu. As twilight arrives, families and friends can catch up over a pizza or burger, watch the sun go down and take to the slopes under lights.
“People love night skiing – it’s a magical and fun experience,” Ski Area Manager Nigel Kerr says. “And it’s extremely convenient at just 20 minutes from downtown Queenstown.” This winter, night skiing runs three times a week, with Wednesday added to Friday and Saturday nights. “We have key events teed up for our guests to enjoy, bringing some well-known and loved DJs and bands to Coronet.”
Treble Cone is renowned for its unmatched terrain and leg-burning vertical, new General Manager Toby Arnott says. “To complement this, visitors can expect a fresh approach to the Treble Cone experience; wide open, uncrowded terrain, and short lift queues,” he says.
It has a northwest-facing learners’ and beginners’ area, so it’s bathed in sunshine and warmth all season. For hard-core types wanting advanced terrain, Saddle Basin and Summit Slopes offer plenty of challenges with open powder faces, natural half-pipes and fun drops. New for 2018 is a Snow Shoe Experience, which includes a scenic chair ride to the top of the ski area; snowshoe and equipment rental, and a fully-guided walk with a qualified instructor.
Cardrona Alpine Resort is handily situated between Wanaka and Queenstown. It has three wide, open basins featuring some of New Zealand’s most progressive terrain and promises that every family member will find a favourite trail. It also boasts New Zealand’s only gondola cabin-style lift on a ski area, McDougall’s Express Chondola.
Spokesperson Jen Houltham predicts “another epic season” this year. “Highlights of the 2018 winter up at Cardrona will be the Real Journeys Queenstown Winter Festival; the Audi quattro Winter Games NZ, and the Jossi Wells Invitational,” she says.
As summer has slipped away before our very eyes, it doesn’t mean we have to play by the rules when it comes to the cooler seasons. The great outdoors can still provide a generous backdrop for getting the blood pumping.
If you’re a fan of ‘sweat, smile and repeat’ then we’ve got a special list of outside the square urban sports that’ll keep you in tip top shape while offering some comic relief.
Played primarily in Provence, this sophisticated sport is a sibling to boules and is a great backyard sport but is also transportable so can go with you on a picnic or to the park. Burn off that blue cheese and crackers with this game of strategy.
If you’ve ever fancied yourself a Tiger Woods or Lydia Ko, then street golf is a stroke of genius. Off the traditional green and onto the gravel, the special golf ball that comes with this new territory means you can play on the street without the fear of a rogue swing landing you in trouble with a window.
The equivalent to cross-country skiing but minus the white stuff, roller skiing is a sport designed to build stamina. Whether you want to cruise through a park or disappear out to the country and find an empty road, this Scandinavian skill is very adaptable. The two techniques include skating and classic which emulates traditional cross-country skiing (legs forward and back).