Government tips million into Winter Games

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The Government is tipping a cool million into Queenstown’s biennial Winter Games, aiming to boost its status internationally. 

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce today (Friday) announced the huge dollop of funding for next year’s third games in Queenstown and Wanaka. 

“The Government investment is designed to provide a platform for the event to step-up in 2013 to become one of the world’s top three snow sports events and to deliver the quality expected of a world-leading event,” Joyce says. 

Joyce adds the money, from the Government’s Major Events Development Fund, will help the games build critical mass enabling it to become self-sustaining and independent of Government support from 2017. 

“In return for this additional $1 million investment, Winter Games New Zealand will provide extensive international television opportunities to promote New Zealand as a premier winter destination across our key tourism and trade markets,” Joyce says. 

It takes the Major Events Development Fund’s investment in the event to $2.75 million since the first games in 2009. 

Next year’s game features five World Cups, one Super Continental Cup and 12 Continental Cups, making it one of the biggest winter sports events outside the Winter Olympics. 

This is expected to increase the number of participants, spectators and international tourists attending. Six months later is the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics in Russia, offering northern hemisphere snow sport champions a unique pre-Olympic training venue. 

A significant new partnership with MediaWorks will see games action broadcast on TV3 and extensive coverage across MediaWorks Radio. 

Winter Games chairman Sir Eion Edgar, based in Queenstown, believes the 2013 event will raise the bar for excellence. 

“The Winter Games NZ is a perfect legacy event for New Zealand. We own it, we shape it and we keep all the commercial rights. 

“It is an event with international standing that will make a major social and economic contribution to the benefit of all New Zealanders.” 

Amongst the 1000 elite international athletes competing will be the highest-ranked skiers and riders including Olympic and past World Cup gold medallists. It’s expected at least 30 competitors at next year’s games will go on to win medals at the Winter Olympics in 2014. 

Edgar says this will provide a strong competitive platform for our home grown New Zealand athletes. 

Games chief executive Arthur Klap says 2013 will be a major step up from the previous two Winter Games. 

“It is a bold move to go with five FIS World Cups and we are now awaiting whether our two alpine ski racing events for the adaptive (disabled) skiers will also be World Cups. This would be wonderful for our Vancouver gold medallist Adam Hall.” 

The programme will include FIS World Cup events in snowboard slopestyle, snowboard cross, freestyle ski halfpipe, freestyle ski slopestyle, as well as snowboard halfpipe. 

The 14-day 2013 event kicks off on August 12. It also includes a full, off-snow festival programme featuring an adventure film festival, live music and entertainment.