Credit card giant Visa has filmed a TV advert in Queenstown for next year’s PyeongChang Winter Olympics.
Athletes including American ice hockey silver medallist Hilary Knight and the Nigerian women’s bobsleigh team filmed at Queenstown Ice Arena earlier this month.
Rink co-owner Dan Graham, who rented it out for 48 hours, says the place was transformed to simulate a bobsleigh starting gate.
Film crews worked overnight to create the set on ice and in the stands.
“There was quite a lot of work behind the scenes.
“It was mainly lighting rigs and green screens – there might have been about 200 people involved.
“Then a full day of shooting from 5am to 8 or 9pm that night. Then they had to dismantle it.”
Graham, who runs the rink in Queenstown Gardens with brother Ted, says Knight – ice hockey’s top female player – is the commercial’s star.
However, fame hasn’t gone to her head. Knight, who has advocated for pay equality in the sporting world, took time out to practise with local ice hockey youngster Tallulah Bryant who plays for the U14 Junior Stampede.
Graham: “She invited her out on the ice and they spent an hour together, [Knight] just showing her drills.
“It was a once in a lifetime chance for Tallulah – you don’t get that opportunity every day.”
Graham, who wasn’t there for all the filming, says everyone on set was impressed by Knight’s friendly nature. Details of the advert are vague.
Producer William Grieve wasn’t able to talk about the commercial due to a confidentiality agreement – which is standard in the film industry.
But Visa has released ads before other Games.
In 2012 Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt was filmed running around London.
Ahead of Rio 2016 New Zealand’s Valerie Adams featured in one.
And prior to the last Winter Olympics in Sochi, American athlete Sarah Henrickson promoted the Games’ first-ever women’s ski jumping event.
It isn’t the first time the arena has been used for filming.
Graham understands scenes for 2009 American film, were shot there before he took over.
He reckons it’s good news for the Queenstown film industry.
“I think obviously for the town and for the ice rink – it demonstrates the flexibility of the facility.
“It is great they have chosen the arena – they obviously felt it was right for whatever they wanted to film.”