America's Olympic skiers train in Queenstown

The United States men's alpine ski team has started a four-week "summer" training programme in Queenstown.

The training team includes Olympic gold medallist, world champion and three-time World Cup giant slalom champion Ted Ligety, Olympian and World Cup podium finisher Nolan Kasper and US Olympic athletes Will Brandenburg, Tim Jitloff and Tommy Ford.

The US women's ski team have just completed their training camp in New Zealand.

The head men's technical coach, Mike Day, believes the region is perfect for their summer training.

“Queenstown provides excellent mountain facilities; Coronet Peak creates a high-quality snow surface for us to train on and there is also a fantastic mix of off-mountain activities,” he said.

“With the Winter Games in New Zealand next year, being able to train on the courses is critical to our success at the event and the Winter Olympics a few months on.”

New Zealand holds the competitive advantage during the northern hemisphere's summer when the world's elite snowboarders and skiers need somewhere to train and compete.

One year out from the third Winter Games NZ, international athletes and teams are attracted to the region. The Queenstown Lakes' resorts are on the World Cup competition circuits and hosting more and more prestigious international snow sport events.

Winter Games NZ 2013 is being staged at a crucial time for the athletes, six months out from the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. This will be one of the last chances for athletes to accrue important qualifying points. The event is expected to attract more than 1000 athletes.

“Having so many international teams and events at the southern resorts is testament to the world-class facilities and competitions we have available to snow sports professionals,” Winter Games NZ chief executive Arthur Klap said.

“Athletes are keen to train at the fields where prominent competitions are being staged, and Winter Games NZ is no exception to this. It is set to be the premiere international sports event in New Zealand.”

International ski and snowboard teams confirmed to train and compete at the region's skifields this winter are Germany, Slovakia, Britain, the US, France, Korea, Belgium, Australia, Spain, China and New Zealand, at Cardrona Alpine Resort, Austria's women's ski team at Treble Cone. The Dutch, Polish, Italian and Finnish teams will be among those training at Snow Park NZ, with the Russian, Norwegian, German, Swiss, Canadian, Austrian, Swedish, New Zealand and Japanese also at Coronet Peak.

The Southland Times