Coronet Peak lures posse of top skiers

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American alpine skiing superstars and Vancouver Winter Olympics gold medallists Lindsey Vonn and Bode Miller will call Queenstown home this winter.

The duo, two of the biggest names in ski racing, front an all-star line-up of athletes who’ll base themselves in the resort for training at Coronet Peak from next month.

Vonn, who won Winter Olympics gold in the downhill and bronze in the super-G four months ago, has skied locally for about the past five years, Coronet Peak’s race and events boss Richard Murphy says.

Miller, who won bronze in the downhill, silver in the super-G and gold in the super-combined, has skied in New Zealand for the past 10 years.

While Coronet is the main Southern Hemisphere training base for the US men’s and women’s alpine teams, Canada also has a dominant presence.

But skiers from Germany, Sweden, Norway, Russia and Slovenia book in too – all told, about 200 athletes will be training at the Rocky Gully race arena.

“Coronet Peak is favoured by the athletes for its consistent snow-making, ability to inject training hills, quick turn-around [on chairlifts and t-bar] and reliable weather patterns,” Murphy says.

Training camps are crucial for team planning – but many athletes will also enter events like the Japanese FIS Cup, the NZ Nationals and the Australia New Zealand Cup.

“They will use these to get back in the start gate and enter race mode once again after some time off from rigorous race schedules in North America and Europe,” Murphy says.

Vonn and Miller will be joined by fellow US team-mates Julia Mancuso, who won silver medals in women’s downhill and super-combined at Vancouver, and Ted Ligety, who placed fifth in the men’s super-combined.
Canadians Erik Guay, who came fifth in both the men’s downhill and super-G, Britt Janyk, a 2008 World Cup downhill gold medallist and Manuel Osborne Paradis, who finished 17th in the men’s downhill at Vancouver, are also booked to train at Coronet Peak.

Also coming is Anja Paerson, of Sweden, who claimed bronze in the super-combined and Germany’s Maria Reisch, who won gold for the slalom and super-combined at the Winter Olympics.