22 Aug 2009

Winter Games officially opens in Queenstown

12:33 pm on 22 August 2009

Thousands of people have attended the opening of the 100% Pure New Zealand Winter Games in Queenstown.

More than 800 athletes have registered for the event, which organisers are calling the biggest gathering of top skiers and snow sports competitors in the world, and second only to the Winter Olympics.

Amid a colourful display of flags and fanfare, Governor-General Anand Satyanand declared the 10 days of competition officially open on Friday.

Events in Queenstown, Wanaka, Naseby and Dunedin will see competition in everything from downhill skiing to figure skating.

The Government contributed $1 million to the event, which is estimated to attract an international television audience in the hundreds of millions.

Winter Games' chief executive Arthur Klapp says he hopes the event will increase the profile of snow sports in New Zealand.