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COMPAQ 50K race tests world-class skiers

QUEENSTOWN (18July) - A shoot out between Germany and Canada went down to the wire with Germany just taking out the honours in the inaugural Compaq 50K of Coronet downhill ski endurance race at Queenstown today.

The two teams were neck and neck throughout the event which started at 7.00pm on Monday (July 17) night and finished at 10.00a.m today.

Eight teams, six from overseas and two from New Zealand, entered the race which raised $70,000 for the Cure Kids Charity.

Teams had hoped to achieve the 50k or 50,000 vertical feet mark but Event Director Wayne Cafe said the elements were against them.

Fog and white out conditions late on Monday night caused some timing problems and the race was delayed for two hours until the weather cleared.

However, Mr Cafe said it was all part of ski racing and the racers themselves were relaxed about the hold up.

Once back on the course which was hard and fast, and at times very slick, there was no holding the competitors back.

World class competitors such as Chris "Superman " Kent from Canada, Martin Fiala from Germany and Australia's Steve Lee put on a spectacular skiing display along with the teams from New Zealand, Slovenia and the all-women Swedish team.

At 51 laps the Germans and Canadians were on the same time but the Germans edged away and held a slender lead to win the event after 1 hour 25.44 secs on snow. The Canadians had a time of 1.26.01 and Australia finished in third place with 1.26.47.

Team Spain and Team New Zealand tussled for several hours with Spain just beating New Zealand into fourth place by one second in 1.28.34. New Zealand had 1.28.35 and Slovenia was sixth in 1.29.53.

All six teams skied 101 laps while Sweden in seventh place made 98 laps in 1.30.43.

continued . . .

Team Kiwi pulled out of the event after one of its members, Geoff Small, injured his knee. He withdrew after 35 laps and team mates Cameron Wilson and Guy Davies continued on for a couple of hours but found the going too tough.

The fastest lap of the event, 48.24 seconds, was recorded early in the evening by Canada. Average times for most of the race ranged between 50 and 53 seconds. The German team was clocked by police radar at speeds up to 130 kmh.

The racers said the Compaq 50K, which required almost 200 volunteers to run, was an outstanding one.

Hans Zehentner leader of the winning German team said it was an exciting world class event and he hoped his team would be back to defend the Janey Blair Trophy donated by her family. The former New Zealand skier died tragically in an a helicopter accident in Fiordland earlier this year.

Mr Cafe said he was very proud to hold such a successful event and it provided "knife edge spectator excitement."

Cure Kids marketing director Kaye Parker said the money donated to the charity was quite overwhelming. The young children who accepted the cheque on behalf of the charity were the face of Cure Kids and she said the organisation was all about hope.

"Our hope is that cures will be found for children's incurable diseases."

A cheque for $18,000 was also presented to the Queenstown Alpine Ski Team which provided the main bulk of the volunteers.

Managing Director of Compaq Computers New Zealand Ltd Russell Hewitt said it was incredible to think that 1200 laps had been skied, mostly through the night.

He said the event was an outstanding success.

"The feedback from everyone involved, from the racers to the volunteers, organisers and spectators has been overwhelming. This has been made even more worthwhile by the $70,000 contribution to the Cure Kids charity," he said.

"Compaq is very proud as lead sponsor to be associated with an international event where being crazy is a definite competitive advantage on the slopes and being generous is common off the slopes."

A charity auction raised most of the money for the charity along with $6000 from the BMW 5K children's endurance race also held at Coronet Peak.

Mr Hewitt signalled that his company would be back next year to support the 50K of Coronet because of the success of the inaugural event.

About Compaq Compaq Computer Corporation is the largest supplier of computing systems in the world. Compaq designs, develops, manufactures, and markets hardware, software, solutions, and services, including industry-leading enterprise computing solutions, fault-tolerant business-critical solutions, and communications products, commercial desktop and portable products, and consumer PCs. Compaq products and services are sold in more than 200 countries, primarily to customers from the business, home, government, and education sectors. Up-to-date information about the COMPAQ 50K of Coronet, plus information about Compaq and its products and services, is available at http://www.compaq50k.co.nz Compaq is registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Product names mentioned herein may be trademarks and/or registered trademarks of their respective companies.

Further information: Wayne Cafe Event Director 025-350 411 compaq50k@clear.net.nz

Jenny McLeod Media Co-ordinator 021-357 173 mcleod@queenstown.co.nz

Hugh Scott Public Relations Manager Compaq Computer NZ Ltd 025-412-700 hugh.scott@compaq.com Web-site: www.compaq50K.co.nz

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