2013-09-06 — /travelprnews.com/ — The 2013 Audi quattro Winter Games may be over but praise for the event – the biggest snow sports event of its kind ever held in New Zealand – keeps coming.
The picturesque snow-seekers’ paradise of Queenstown – New Zealand’s No.1 tourist destination – and the nearby Wanaka region were home for 11 thrilling days to some of the best elite snow sport and top-adaptive athletes from 33 countries around the world.
Skilled athletes enjoyed alpine skiing, freeskiing ( an event that is set to make its debut at the 2014 Winter Olympics) snowboarding, cross-country skiing and curling on the South Island’s best slopes.
Coronet Peak, Cardona Alpine Resort and Snow Farm, and the Maniototo Curling International Rink hosted the spectacular competitive events, while there was plenty for visitors and competitors do off -piste with the Downtown Sessions – including films, live music and entertainment.
Set against a stunning backdrop of the Southern Alps, the triumphant competition served as the precursor to the Winter Olympics to be held in Russia in 2014.
Praise for New Zealand
The success of the event did not go unnoticed by the Federation International de Ski (FIS) who said New Zealand hosted “the best World Cup event” on the international circuit.
FIS Race Director Roberto Moresi of Italy said the Winter Games NZ was the “best organised event overall” and was delivered by “totally competent and friendly local officials who work as an amazing team”.
FIS Technical Delegate, Peter Krogoll of Germany, called the event “flawless”, while Swedish coach Patrick Nyberb hailed the Winter Games NZ as “the best World Cup the team has ever been to”.
Praise for the event and the surrounding areas also flowed at the closing ceremony held in Lake Wanaka – a region known for its year-round access to outdoor activities and as the gateway to Mount Aspiring National Park and Te Wahipounamu World Heritage Area.
Mike Jankowski, head coach of the US Olympic Snowboarding and Freeskiing Teams, said his team loves coming to Wanaka and Cardrona because “the people are so friendly and welcoming”.
The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) races were a highlight of the Games with the world’s top athletes competing for valuable qualification points for the Sochi Winter Paralympics.
Heather Mills – ex-model and former wife of Sir Paul McCartney – grabbed the headlines while Canadian Josh Dueck became the first person to land a back flip on a sit-ski.
Fun at Millbrook
New Zealand – its diverse landscape and love of sport – was also enjoyed by two world-class US snowboarders.
World No.1 snowboarder Kelly Clark, who won the FIS Snowboard World Cup Halfpipe title at the Games, swapped her snowboard for some golf-clubs for a round of golf at the 27-hole Millbrook championship golf course in Queenstown.
The award-winning luxury golf course, which has three nine-hole courses named after some of Queenstown’s most awe-inspiring landscapes – The Remarkables, The Arrow and The Coronet Nine – also plays host to the NZPGA Championship.
“Both sports provide the same sort of challenges and that’s what appeals to us,” Kelly Clark said about her round of golf.
“Millbrook is absolutely stunning and we loved both the challenge and the spectacular setting.”
The Queenstown region is known as New Zealand’s tourism capital and attracts more than a million visitors each year to enjoy experiences ranging from world-class skiing and snowboarding to golfing, walking, cycling, hiking, bungy jumping and jet boating, along with gourmet food and wines.
The roaring success of the 2013 Winter Games NZ will ensure the event keeps growing when it returns to New Zealand in 2015 and 2017.