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Man and his best friend arrived at Queenstown’s Coronet Peak in their droves today bringing entertainment and carnage to the ski area’s opening day during the Speight’s Dog Derby - Winter Festival’s longest standing event.
Almost fifty entrants plus their dogs took part - 18 in the ‘Townie’ race and 28 in the ‘Country’ race. Each entrant picked up their pooch to ride the Meadows Express Chairlift before running down the Big Easy ski trail, with faithful hound in tow.
In the Townies leg, Thomas Kugler from Queenstown was first to cross the line with his border collie cross Staffordshire bull terrier, Piva, hot on his heels. In the Country leg, the reigning champion from 2010, Troy Macdonald from Athol, took home the title once more, successfully whistling his heading dog, Max, through the winning flags amid the event’s mayhem.
Later, the good old fashioned fun continued down in Queenstown’s CBD at Earnslaw Park where more than 30 people and their dogs took part in the Speight’s Dog Barking contest. Beating the best of a very loud bunch was Manson, a Huntaway owned by John Broughton from Ohai.
The Festival continues tonight with the Alpine Health & Fitness Ladies Fashion Challenge then tomorrow, teams will fight it out Dodgeball style in the Speight’s Summit Dodgeball Championship on Earnslaw Park at noon. At 1pm the American Honey Coronet Concert gets underway with the rockin’ sounds of Mercury Crowe and Mile High entertaining, skiers, snowboarders and revellers on the deck at Coronet Peak.
Over the final weekend of the 2011 American Express Queenstown Winter Festival, a full schedule of events includes the Air NZ Holidays Mountain Mayhem day of fun and crazy antics at Coronet Peak, the AJ Hackett Bungy NZ Cyclocross Championship, Ice Hockey featuring the Southern Stampede vs Botany Swarm, THE major Festival concert event, the Stoneleigh Jazz night at Skyline, the Quiksilver BoxZilla challenge for freestyle skiers and snowboarders at The Remarkables and The Life of Pinot with Peter Thornley at Wakatipu Grill at Hilton Hotel.
For full programme details check out the complete American Express Queenstown Winter Festival calendar online at www.winterfestival.co.nz or pick up a programme at information outlets throughout the region.
Tickets for all events can be bought from TicketDirect online at www.ticketdirect.co.nz, by phone 0800 224 224 (03 450 9110), or in person at the Queenstown Events Centre or Queenstown i-Site (corner of Shotover and Camp streets)*.