The fourth Audi quattro Winter Games NZ will open in spectacular fashion at Coronet Peak ski field on Friday, as U.S. Ski Team stars Ted Ligety and Mikaela Shiffrin have committed to compete in the opening race.
For the first time in the event’s history, the opening ceremony will take place on snow with live music, fireworks, and a dual night slalom race.
“Ligety joins fellow countrywoman Mikaela Shiffrin, who is the Sochi slalom gold medalist and World Champion and World Cup slalom titleholder, in the strong dual slalom line-up,” said Winter Games NZ CEO Arthur Klap. “To have not just one but two world champion skiers appearing is incredible for the Games and for alpine racing in New Zealand. We couldn’t have hoped for a better outcome for our inaugural Coronet Peak Night Slalom.”
Top skiers from around the world (including additional World Cup regulars Michael Matt, Travis Ganong, Steven Nyman, Paula Moltzan, the retired Chemmy Alcott, and more) will race head-to-head under the floodlights for a share of $30,000 in prize money. The race will consist of qualifying time trials followed by quarterfinals, semifinals, and the final event taking place at 7 p.m.
“We have organized to fly Ted and other team members, including reigning U.S. Alpine Slalom Champion David Chodounsky, from Tekapo (where he’s currently training at Roundhill) to Coronet Peak by helicopter on Friday afternoon to race in the night slalom,” added Klap.
U.S. Ski Team World Cup men’s coach Forest Carey, who works directly with Ligety, said Ligety and the other Americans entered in the Coronet Peak Night Slalom are upbeat about competing.
“Our athletes put in a lot of effort with their training and it is good for them to have the chance to race in the cash prize night slalom. The Audi quattro Winter Games NZ is recognised as a quality event and there is growing awareness of its place on the international circuit,” noted Carey.
Additional alpine races at Winter Games NZ take place at Coronet Peak at the end of the month with two Continental Cup events: both a men’s and a women’s Australia New Zealand Cup slalom (Aug. 29) and GS (Aug. 30).
Release courtesy of Winter Games NZ, photo courtesy of Coronet Peak