You are not permitted to download, save or email this image. Visit image gallery to purchase the image.
Cardrona Alpine Resort will host the Special Olympics New Zealand National Winter Games next week.
The four-yearly event will this year involve 51 athletes representing 20 clubs from throughout New Zealand. They will be joined by 28 coaches and additional support people, plus a dozen volunteers.
Athletes will range in age from 17 to 50-plus, with a mix of alpine skiers and snowboarders competing across Super G, slalom and giant slalom disciplines.
Special Olympics New Zealand event manager Sue Kysow said after an opening ceremony yesterday morning "divisioning races" would be run to assess the ability of each athlete.
A series of divisions would then be created in novice, intermediate and advanced grades so athletes could take part at an appropriate level of competition.
"The whole philosophy of Special Olympics is to recognise their ability so it's not just for the elite-level athletes," Ms Kysow said.
"It means everybody competes against athletes of a comparable ability level and that gives everyone a chance to excel and encourages everyone to demonstrate their abilities and talents."
The results from next week's national event - which competitors qualified for previously at a regional level - would be the "springboard" for athletes and coaches to be nominated for the 2013 Special Olympics World Winter Games, in South Korea, Ms Kysow said.
The games will finish with an awards presentations and a short closing ceremony on Friday.
While a tender process was held for hosting rights for the games each time, Cardrona had been the event's "main base".