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The world's top alpine ski racing stars are set to take the slopes by storm in this month's 100% Pure New Zealand Winter Games in one of the most competitive fields seen in New Zealand.
Over 80 racers from 14 countries have already entered with the field size expected to double before racing starts on 22 August. These include Olympic medallists and World Cup Champions who will take on the challenging slalom and giant slalom courses at Coronet Peak before travelling to Mt Hutt in Canterbury for the high speed Super G event.
Aksel Lund Svindal, the reigning Olympic men's Super G champion heads the men's field, joined by team mate and Olympic giant slalom silver medallist, Kjetil Jansrud. In the slalom, German Olympic athlete Felix Neureurther finished the 2011 World Cup season on 8th and is a strong contender for gold at the Winter Games. New Zealand Olympians Tim Cafe and Ben Griffin will be looking to impress on their home turf along with emerging talents Willis Feasey and Adam Barwood who had recent success at the Cardrona FIS races.
In the women's, race, high ranking German athletes Lena Duerr and Veronika Staber will take on New Zealand's top female athlete, Sarah Jarvis back from her successful European season that included a top eight finish in the French National Championships for giant slalom and a top 10 finish for slalom.
Other nations competing in the three alpine disciplines include Australia, France, Korea, Monaco, Ireland, Great Britain, Russia, Slovakia and the USA.
The 100% Pure New Zealand Winter Games alpine skiing programme starts on Monday 22 August at Coronet Peak with the men's giant slalom, followed by the women's giant slalom on Tuesday 23 August and the slalom on 24 August. The Super G takes place at Mt Hutt on Saturday 27 August.
100% Pure New Zealand Winter Games takes place from 12- 28 August 2011 featuring 22 snow and ice sports over 38 events and involving 1,000 elite athletes from 50 nations. The 16-day long Games also include a full Downtown Sessions festival programme featuring films, live music and entertainment and rail jam extravaganzas in Queenstown, Lake Wanaka, Dunedin and Methven. The on-snow competition will take place at Coronet Peak, Cardrona Alpine Resort, Snow Park NZ, Snow Farm and Mt Hutt with the ice sports taking place at Naseby and Dunedin.
The arts are set to spring back to life in Christchurch this month as the new Hagley Park Events Village hosts the Christchurch Arts Festival and a string of other arts cultural, food and sporting festivals get underway in the city.
“The Hagley Park Events Village has given us a great central city venue for festivals and events and we’re certainly going to make the most of the space over the next few months,” says Christchurch & Canterbury Tourism chief executive Tim Hunter.
“From mid-August through to February there is virtually going to be something happening there all the time so it’s going to become a real gathering place and entertainment hub for the city, which is fantastic.’’
The Christchurch Arts Festival will be the first of the festivals to be based at the Hagley Parks Events Village. This popular biennial celebration of the arts will see theatre, music, dance, exhibition and debates held nearly every weekend between mid-August and early October in the giant inflatable dome or one of the other geodesic dome venues that make up the Christchurch City Council-run events village.
This year’s arts festival has a post-quake twist and will see many talented performers coming back to their hometown to entertain. Those lined up to perform include Kiwi icons Dave Dobbyn, Liam Finn, the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and the Royal New Zealand Ballet.
Running at the same time as the Christchurch Arts Festival will be the 6th SCAPE Christchurch Biennial of Art in Public Space. SCAPE has been installing contemporary public art by local, national and internationally renowned artists in central Christchurch for over a decade. This year’s event will continue this trend, with artists from New Zealand, Turkey, and Australia producing large-scale public art for temporary installation at new sites to inject a fresh hope and life around the central city.
In September Christchurch’s celebration of the arts continues with The Body Festival of Dance and Physical Theatre. This year’s festival features a programme of dance performance, workshops, master-classes and film installations, as well as an outdoor cultural spectacle especially for Rugby World Cup.
During the six weeks of the Rugby World Cup, the Hagley Park Events Village will be transformed into a Fanzone where people can watch matches on a giant screen and enjoy the entertainment provided in the domes and festival areas.
Christchurch’s annual Feast of Canterbury is on for three weeks from 1 September and promises a host of gourmet events at the Feast Marquee in Riccarton House grounds, as well as Akaroa, Terrace Downs, and Pegasus Bay Winery. Canterbury’s best will be cooking up a tantalising array of feasts including special dinners, lunches, cook-schools, gourmet road trips and a spectacular gala dinner.
October is the annual French Fest in Akaroa: 28 to 30 October will be a weekend of colour and fun, ceremony and celebration, showcasing what happens when the colours and flavours of French culture collide with the Kiwi sense of fun and festivity.
In November the Hagley Park Events Village will play host to some of the events planned as part of New Zealand Cup and Show Week.
The Christchurch | South Island Wine & Food Festival on 3 December in Hagley Park will feature 50 of the South Island’s top wineries, live entertainment from New Zealand artists, cooking displays from high profile chefs, wine seminars, wine and food matching and more. A few weeks later in the same venue The Great Kiwi Beer Festival will be a celebration of the brewing industry in New Zealand.
The prestigious BMW New Zealand Open Championship will be held at Clearwater Resort in Christchurch on 1 to 4 December. It will be part of the Australasian Tour and not to be missed by golf fans.
The ever-popular World Buskers Festival is scheduled for late January and in March, the world-renowned Ellerslie International Flower Show will be back in Hagley Park.
“Outside of Christchurch City we’ve also got some exciting and fun events coming up,’’ says Mr Hunter.
“The Winter Games comes to Mt Hutt Methven in August with the Alpine Super G mixing high speed and steep runs, and some of the world’s best skiers showing off their technical skills. On 27 August Methven Big Air is on in town – a display of snowboard, motocross riding and free-skiing with great bands performing, outside the famous Blue Pub.
“In early September the 10-day Best of Mid Canterbury Festival gets underway with a Party Under The Stars. Also in September we’ve got the Australia New Zealand Continental Cup being raced at Mt Hutt. This is the biggest annual ski race in the Southern Hemisphere and it attracts some of the best skiers in the world.
“There is certainly going to be no shortage of entertainment for people over the next few months and if you’re an arts enthusiast it is a great time to visit Christchurch & Canterbury. With the Rugby World Cup on as well we’re expecting the whole mood of the city to lift and for there to be a real buzz about the place,” says Mr Hunter.
Christchurch’s new temporary i-SITE Centre offers a ticketing service for most major events in Christchurch. The city’s new i-SITE is being set up in the Botanic Gardens beside Canterbury Museum, and is due to open in late September at the same time as the Museum is expected to re-open. Christchurch’s i-SITE team can also help with advice and information on what else you can see and do in the region and around the South Island.