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Snow, Suitcases and lots of Cash add up to Mountain Mayhem at Coronet Peak

July 2, 2013 DESTINATION No Comments Email Email

1st place cash winners of the American Express Dash For Cash upFestival-goers took to the slopes of Coronet Peak this afternoon on the ninth day of the 39th American Express Queenstown Winter Festival for some mountain mayhem.

American Express Queenstown Winter Festival Manager Lisa Buckingham said the weather and mountain conditions couldn’t have been more perfect for spectators and competitors alike.

“Who knew you could have so much fun on the mountain, but not skiing or snowboarding,” Lisa said.

“Snow was flying everywhere as contestants fought hard in their events, and as always there were a few thrills and spills, and as much competition for the costumes as for the placings. The picture perfect conditions added to the overall buzz.”Mark Wilson going wild trying to win the Auckland Airport Suitcase Race on Coronet Peak during the American Express Queenstown Winterfestival

The American Express Dash for Cash attracted some of Queenstown’s hard-core skiers and boarders who raced their way down the main M1 trail before sprinting back uphill to claim the $250 prize. Locals Sam Hazledine won the men’s race, Mitchy Greig the women’s and Tony Middendorf the veterans.

More than forty people competed in the Auckland Airport Suitcase Race which had contestants sliding their way in whichever way they could from the top of their course to the bottom in – or on — their ‘designer’ suitcases. While costumes were optional, most had dressed to ensure they had equal chance of winning in either the racing or Best Dressed division.

Hayley Ackerman Wins 1st female in Auckland Airport Suitcase Race up Coronet PeakLast year’s fastest male ‘suitcasers’, members of The Jamaican Bob Sled team from Invercargill, were once again the fastest two men with electrician Matt Malcolm just beating out fellow sparky Greg Hamil, 2012’s winner, to take the title.

The fastest female suitcase racer, Hayley ‘the Devil made me do it’ Ackerman from Queenstown, had a secret weapon; a tight red vinyl suit, a tail and a retro suitcase.

Which was more than what local suitcase speedster Mark ‘SWAT man’ Wilson had between himself and the searingly cold snow. Dressed in speedos and a SWAT flak jacket, he will be remembered for his lack of clothing.  Ultimately he took out the best (under) Dressed prize.

Rounding out the mountain madness the Jelly Belly Musical Chairs Competition and the MetServiceMatt Malcolm leading the pack from the Jamacian Bobsled team at the Auckland Airport Suitcase Race up Coronet Peak Snow Scramble provided prizes and lunchtime distractions for all ages.

The last Remarkables Park Mid-Winter Market and Creative Queenstown Arts & Crafts markets brought out shoppers to The Remarkables Red Barn and Earnslaw Park to indulge in local produce, gifts and goodies.

It was a relaxed and cosy affair at the Remarkables Park Drive-In Movies last night, with both Eight Below and Cool Runnings attracting good crowds.

Also last night, high up on Coronet Peak, skiers and boarders came together for the first Corona Coronet Peak Night Skiing in near perfect conditions. George FM’s Dan Aux turntable choices drifted across the deck and the starry night did the rest to make it a great night out under the stars.

Back in downtown Queenstown at Thank George it’s Friday at The Find, the pop up venue standing in for the World Bar opened its doors for the first time to packed dance floors and a long line to enter. George FM DJs Kirsteen MacKenzie, Dean Campbell and Dan Aux finished off their week of broadcasting live in Queenstown by playing at this venue’s official opening party.

Tonight’s main event is local’s favourite, the Mountain Scene Thriller in the Chiller charity boxing event with well-known locals going head to head in the ring in the fight of their life. This year’s charity is the Branches Charitable Trust.

The last game between the Southern Stampede and northerners Botany Downs also takes place tonight with the Stampede hoping to replicate last night’s win.

Tomorrow, for the first time in the event’s 39-year history, the final night of the American Express Queenstown Winter Festival will be marked with a positively global vibe as the inaugural Auckland Airport Community Carnival gets under way.

The carnival-style street event, which heralds the end of the ten-day festival, will be held from 4pm to 7pm tomorrow (Sunday 30 June) with an eclectic mix of over 20 stalls run by local charities, schools, restaurants and cultural groups.

Dotted around the streets of the CBD, the diverse cultures of Queenstown’s residents will be represented by ‘zones’.

American Express Queenstown Winter Festival Manager Lisa Buckingham said the finale was going to be “a real crowd pleaser” and one not to be missed.

“Every year the Festival starts on a high and this year we’ll end on one too,” Lisa said.

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