The Audi Quattro Winter Games
THE AUDI QUATRO WINTER GAMES - WHAT'S IT ALL ABOUT
The biennial Audi Quattro Winter Games have quickly become one of biggest sporting events not only in Queenstown but in the Southern Hemisphere - attracting world call winter athletes from all over the world. So what's it all about? Why the fuss?
The games are held every two years over a two week period from late August to early September and consist of some of the worlds elite athletes competing in ice-hockey, freestyle skiing, snowboarding, alpine skiing, cross-country skiing and curling. This year athletes come from 39 countires including the US, Australia, Argentina, China, Japan, UK, and all over Europe.
Since it's inception in 2011 the event has been gaining increased appeal for winter athletes who are effectively in their off season. This year has seen the greatest number of athletes enter and also the highest calibre. The reason being that for many this is one of the last chances for them to qualify for next years PyeongChange Olympics. It is estaimed that at least 20 of the entered competitors rank very highly as medal hopefuls next year.
Look out for the top-rated Norweign and Swedish contingents in the alpine ski racing, British skier James Wood and US skier Bobby Brown in the Slopestyle, and the world famous Americans of Kelly Clark and Shaun White in the snowboarding plus also current World Champion Anna Gasser. In the curling the focus will be on defending champions Canada and the World Campion Swiss.
New Zealand is not left out at all and is well represented by Sam Lee - number 6 in the world for Freeride skiing, Adam Barwood and Willis Feasy who have both recently made it in to the top 100 in the world for ski racing, and the ever strong Kiwi athletes in the freestyle skiing and snowboarding including Beau-James Wells, Zoi Sadowski-Synnott, Carlos Garcia Knight and 14 year old sensation Nico Porteous.
The events take place in Queenstown (Coronet Peak for Alpine ski racing and The Remarkables for the Freeride events), Wanaka (Cardrona for the freestyle ski and snowboard events and Snow Park for the cross-country skiing events) and Naesby (for Curling). For the regions visitor the best bit is all sports events are completely free to watch.
A PARTY AS WELL AS A SPORTS EVENT
In true Southern style however, it is not just about the on-snow events. The Winter Games come this year with an equally impressive festival to boogie the night away to. The Cardrona Pub is turned into a hub of live music and late night parties plus many of the bars around Queenstown and Wanaka have DJs and events carrying right through.