Dogs and owners on slippery slopes

Wagging tongues and tails were signs of happy hounds as they dashed through the snow at Coronet Peak for the 45th dog derby race.

Sunshine came to the party when around 80 dogs and their owners bolted down a freshly powdered mountain on Saturday.

The Speight's Coronet Peak Dog Derby started with the ''townie'' category of owners and their precious pooches, who darted downhill from the top of the Meadows Express chairlift.

Molly Butt with her Leonberger dog Ellie, both of Tuatapere, before the whistle blew for the ``townie'' division. Photos: Miranda Cook.
Molly Butt with her Leonberger dog Ellie, both of Tuatapere, before the whistle blew for the "townie'' division. Photos: Miranda Cook.
First to cross the line and take home the $300 cash prize was Triton Bain, of Invercargill, and his furry mate Moose.

Next up were the ''country'' competitors, mainly farmers and their working dogs, who started from the ice bar, before zipping, slipping and colliding in a chaotic finish at the bottom of the slope.

Renee Morris and her competitive canine, Gin, of Nokomai Station, won that division, claiming the $500 cash prize.

Hundreds of supporters watched as the owners and their pets caught the chairlift up the mountain, before cheering from the ski area when the race was on.

The event has been held every year since 1974, originally the idea of local legend and ski field staffer Des Gavin.

Alice Sutcliffe feeds Kyro a much-needed doggy treat before the ``townie'' race, sitting with...
Alice Sutcliffe feeds Kyro a much-needed doggy treat before the ``townie'' race, sitting with Florence Guthrie and Dasha the dog on the Meadows Express chairlift.

Coronet ski area boss Nigel Kerr said people love the event and come from all over to get involved.

''I think it's the sheer confusion of man and pet trying to go in the same direction,'' Mr Kerr said.

''Normally it's the dogs who lead the race and then they look for their owners.''

He said it was an important tradition for Coronet Peak.

''It's a real crowd pleaser.''

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