International Skiing Stars to Call Queenstown Home for Winter

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With the alpine skiing season in its official offseason, many of the world’s top skiers are turning to New Zealand and southern Australia to advance their training. In particular, American superstar gold medalists Lindsey Vonn and Bode Miller will be calling Queenstown home for the winter as they hone their craft on nearby Coronet Peak.

Vonn and Miller happen to be two of the biggest names in skiing these days, but they won’t be alone, fronting an all-star line-up of skiers seeking to get an edge on the competition in an increasingly intense sport.

Just a decade ago, skiers largely rested up between the months of June and September, but this has begun to change as more investment flows into the sport and the competition heats up. Now, skiers simply can’t afford to take those months off if they don’t want to risk falling behind.

To make things more complicated, several of the summer ski slopes remaining in the northern hemisphere have closed down due to poor attendance in recent years. As a result, all eyes in the skiing world have turned to southern hemisphere countries to provide top-notch, training-worthy slopes. The slopes around Coronet Peak fit the bill perfectly.

Vonn, who won a gold and a bronze at this year’s Olympics, has been skiing in New Zealand for several years now. Miller, who won a gold, a silver, and a bronze, has been training here for a decade.

But while the U.S. team has had a presence here for a while, many other teams are now getting in on the action. Skiers from Canada, Slovenia, Russia, Norway, Sweden, and Germany will also be staying in Queenstown this year. Estimates are that around 200 world-class skiers will be present for the winter months.

It’s expected that practice around Queenstown will only intensify in the coming months as the 2010/11 professional ski season approaches. In the meantime, the skiers will have the chance to compete in minor competitions in New Zealand and Australia. The first major world competition will take place in northern Japan this fall.

The ski season at Coronet Peak is among the longest in the southern hemisphere, spanning from early June to late October. It’s one of the only ski fields in the country to offer all-night skiing on every day of the week. It also has one of the longest and most challenging slopes in New Zealand.

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