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Competition shines at the iHeart Radio Day

Competition shines at the iHeart Radio Day on the Bay at the 40th American Express Queenstown Winter Festival

Athletes and amateurs competed side by side as day three of the American Express Queenstown Winter Festival turned sporty on-and-off the slopes. Downtown action drew thousands to the shores of Lake Wakatipu to get vantage points to watch the iHeart Radio Day on the Bay while the Coronet Peak Skin to Summit competitors had the mountain to themselves.

“It was another great day of American Express Queenstown Winter Festival antics and it was fantastic to see so many local and visiting entrants really getting into the spirit of things,” said Lisa Buckingham, Festival Manager.

Festival favourite the iHeart Radio Birdman competition once again drew a huge crowd as competitors braved the freezing waters to show-off their homemade birdman entry.

Niam Chronican from Shotover Jet won the Best Overall Birdman title with his ‘I fly Red’ entry, Atlas Beer Bar’s ‘ET phone Atlas’ took out the business category and best costume or contraption was won by PaknSend with their ‘PaknSend Minions’. The best flight was judged as being that of the SKYCITY High Rollers.

While iHeart Radio Birdman entrants had worked for weeks on their entries and costumes, entries in the Jucy Undy 500, Lifeproof Splash’n’Dash and the Keen Paddleboard Race included sign ups on the day.

Life Proof Splash n Dash competitors swam 50 metres in the icy lake followed by a 50 metre dash down the stony beach. An event always popular with visiting backpackers hoping for some travelling funds, there was an international field with the final three in each division coming from South America, USA , Britain and New Zealand. Matias Torres from Argentina and Sophie Gibson from Queenstown won the men’s and women’s categories to take home the cash.

Five local jet boat operators lined up for the Vincent Holdings Jet Sprints, competing on a snake like course that combined slalom and sprinting skills. Last year’s winner Kevin Molloy from Skippers Jet took it out in 54.36 seconds – beating his winning 2013 time by more than 5 seconds.

The Queenstown Watersports men’s team and Wild Cats women’s team took out the Keen Paddle Board Race. NZ Shred were the best dressed team in their business suits and best effort for a tentative but spirited paddle cheered on by the crowd was Matt from the Rambos.

The iHeart Radio Day on the Bay schedule of events finished with competitors running scantily clad twice the length of the beach for Jucy Undy 500 line honours. Neil Wakefield and Wio Ngarimu of Queenstown were first equal in the men’s division and Shamon Taylor won the women’s division of the Jucy Undy 500.

Earlier in the day, a freezing Central Otago dawn greeted spectators and competitors taking part in the dawn Coronet Peak Skin to the Summit event. Grant Guise from Queenstown was first on the elite course after starting out from the Coronet Peak base building at 8am, and powering up mountain’s three peaks in 47.42 minutes.

Tonight sponsor American Express brings back the Comedy Debate for the Festival’s 40th anniversary. Moderated by Jeremy Corbett and debating the moot “Is Forty the new Thirty?”, Paul Ego, Michele A'Court and Mayor Tim Shadbolt are pitted against ‘young things’ Oliver Driver, Jesse Mulligan and Jacinda Ardern.

Those looking for a sporting Sunday night will be going to the Ice Hockey. Visitors Dunedin Thunder will be looking for a win in tonight’s rematch against Southern Stampede after they lost to their Queenstown hosts in overtime 5-4.

Day four of the American Express Queenstown Winter Festival starts tomorrow at midday with the retro 70’s Disco Workout on Earnslaw Park. The evening truly has something for everyone with the Whiskey Tasting Masterclass, an early sell out, at Ballarat, a debate “Queenstown 2040 Where will the Snow Be?” at the Queenstown Memorial Centre, the SKYCITY Winter Quiz at SKYCITY Queenstown Casino and for those looking for some late night sounds, the ZM Ministry of Sound Radio Sessions with Mikael Wills at 1876.


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