100% Pure New Zealand Winter Games is making history this August as the first elite snow sports event to have able bodied and athletes with a disability compete together.
100% Pure New Zealand Winter Games will provide the opportunity for both able bodied and athletes with a disability to race alongside each other in the alpine skiing and cross-country skiing disciplines. However, with valuable points available for Olympic and Paralympic qualification, the scoring system will be separate under FIS (Federation International de Ski) and IPC (International Paralympic Committee) regulations.
“This is a new concept in high performance competition,” said Winter Games NZ CEO, Arthur Klap. “We believe no distinction should be made between any athletes that perform at the highest possible level, against the best in the world. To this end, adaptive and able bodied athletes will be competing at the same time, on the same course.”
The importance of 100% Pure New Zealand Winter Games in the adaptive skiing calendar is further highlighted by IPC’s decision to set the qualifying standard for the Games at the same level as for the Paralympics. This is a direct result of 100% Pure New Zealand Winter Games’ progressive decision to include adaptive skiing in the mainstream programme.
Athletes confirmed to date include top New Zealand skier, Adam Hall from Wanaka, Otago who is currently ranked second in the world for slalom and seventh for giant slalom.
“Winter Games NZ will be great for New Zealand in the sense that it’s the biggest adaptive ski event ever held here. It’ll be really exciting and people would never have seen anything like this here before,” he said. “It’s also a major stepping stone for me in my preparation for the Paralympics in Vancouver. The support staff and myself can work together as a team and use it a practice run for 2010. The athletes that are here will also be in Vancouver so it’s a perfect opportunity to test myself against them.”
Athletes with a range of physical disabilities or visual impairment will compete. There are three classes of skiers – standing, sitting (using a specially mono ski) and visually impaired (who race with a guide). In the cross-country disciplines adaptive athletes either ski on two Nordic skis or in a special ski chair with long poles – these athletes are particularly fit and strong. All are professional athletes who train and compete all year round.
The inaugural 100% Pure New Zealand Winter Games will take place at Coronet Peak, The Remarkables, Cardrona Alpine Resort, Snow Farm, Naseby and Dunedin from 21-30 August 2009. It will feature disciplines of alpine skiing, free skiing, x-country skiing, snowboarding, curling, ice skating and adaptive snow sports as well as the demonstration sports of winter triathlon and natural luge.