Large field expected for skiing masters

The titles of 2006 New Zealand Skiing Masters champions Walter Unterberger, of Nelson, and Kat Rattray, of Christchurch, will be contested in next month's championships, after bad weather forced the cancellation of the event last year.

Co-ordinator Fraser Skinner said a traditionally large field was expected to line up for the prestigious event at Coronet Peak, which runs from August 7-9, with the early morning downhill event expected to be a significant drawcard.

Mr Skinner said the support for the annual event had been "outstanding".

Browns Ski Shop, Merrell, Head and Volkl Skis, Rockburn Wines and Sacred Hill Wines had all come on board for the 2008 event, he said.

The NZ Skiing Masters was always well patronised by masters skiers from around the country, particularly because it was the only masters race to feature a downhill.

"The downhill is always popular and it is exciting to watch competitors race from the top of the M1 to the bottom just as the sun comes up.

"We always get very competitive fields right through the age-groups - the over 70s categories are just as hotly contested as the younger ones, and we expect we will have some entrants over 80.

"What we are really hoping this year is for some new competitors around the 30 age-group to add a new dimension."

Downhill training will be held on August 7 with the downhill event run at 8am on August 8.

A slalom is scheduled for 10.30am on August 7, followed by a prizegiving for both at JSD's Lodge at Coronet Peak.

The premier event, the giant slalom, will be staged on August 9 at 11am and a prizegiving dinner is planned for the Athenaeum Hall at Arrowtown that night.

Entry forms for the 2008 New Zealand Skiing Masters are available from Browns Ski Shop or the Alpine Ski Team on Robins Rd, Queenstown, or at www.skiracing.org.nz.