For the first time, athletes with a disability and able-bodied athletes will be competing together in the upcoming Winter Games event in New Zealand.
The 100% Pure New Zealand Winter Games will take place from 21-30 August this year, and provide the opportunity for both able-bodied and athletes with a disability to race alongside each other in Alpine Skiing and Cross-Country Skiing. The scoring system however, will continue to be separate under International Ski Federation (FIS) and International Paralympic Committee (IPC) regulations.
There will be three classes of athletes with a disability, including Standing, Stitting and Visually Impaired. The venues for the Games will be at The Remarkables, Cardona Alpine Resort, Snow Farm, Naseby and Dunedin.
The CEO of the Winter Games in New Zealand, Arthur Klap, said that no distinction should be made between athletes that perform at the highest possible level against the best in the world. He continued saying that this was a new concept in high performance competition, with the athletes competing at the same time and on the same course.
The Games provide elite winter athletes around the world with the ultimate testing ground where they are able to experiment and explore their performances against world-class competition. Every four years, the Games act as a direct lead-up to the Winter Paralympic Games, giving all athletes a good training opportunity.
The importance of 100% Pure New Zealand Winter Games in the area of Paralympic Sport is further highlighted by the 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’s progressive decision to include Paralympic Sport into the mainstream programme.
The big event in the Southern Hemisphere will also see a high number of international volunteers, with the largest showing from Canada with 13 people. More than half of the Canadian group has never visited New Zealand before and they will work in a variety of roles, ranging from timing to course preparation at the ski racing events. Many will in fact go on to work in important roles at the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Games.