$50k study on annual games


Taxpayers are forking out $50,000 to decide if Queenstown’s Winter Games should be held yearly.

Government body Sport NZ has commissioned account ancy firm Ernst & Young’s Melbourne office to prepare a report by November.

Attracting up to 800 international athletes, the 10-day Queenstown and Wanaka-based snowsports event, being held this week, has been held every two years since 2009.

Sport NZ chief executive Peter Miskimmin says: “Sport NZ is encouraged by the development of the Winter Games since its inception and is keen to see if it can become an annual event.

“The feasibility study will provide a strong platform on which to base this decision,” he says.

Five Ernst & Young staff from Melbourne, Auckland and Wellington are consulting between 30 and 40 organisations and people this week including the local council, Destination Queenstown and local skifields, then the likes of sponsors after the event.

The Winter Games NZ and Snow Sports NZ boards hatched the idea of an annual games – probably from 2018 - early this year.

Winter Games boss Arthur Klap is delighted Sport NZ is funding the study, saying: “We couldn’t afford to do it, neither could Snow Sports NZ”.

The government already contributes $1.5 million to the Games through its Major Events Fund, with another $1.25m promised for 2017.

Games founder and patron, Queenstowner Sir Eion Edgar, says there are three strong reasons why holding the event annually should be seriously considered.

The International Ski Federation (FIS) is talking about a super series of freeski and snowboard World Cups in four or five resorts around the world, “and they would like us to be one of them”.

This week’s Games feature four World Cup freeskiing and snowboarding events at Cardrona skifield.

Edgar says the likes of Cardrona and naming sponsor Audi Germany believe an annual event would be easier to promote.

“The third factor is if we don’t do it, then the likelihood is some other southern hemisphere country like Australia will do it.”

Klap expects a decision to be made before Christmas.