Biker launches festival with splash-down backflip

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Queenstown-based mountain biker Kelly McGarry launched Queenstown Bike Festival with a backflip off classic steamer the TSS Earnslaw.

McGarry plunged into the chilly waters of Lake Wakatipu on Friday – and says afterwards it wasn’t as cold as he feared.

The Kiwi bike star – who hucked a backflip over a 22-metre canyon gap in Utah last year – rode along planks set down to protect the roof of 101-year-old ‘Lady of the Lake’ before hitting his home-made ramp and ‘landing’ his jump on the water more than eight metres below, to the cheers of about 100 spectators.

“It’s a pretty cool way to kick off the bike fest,” McGarry says.

“There were heaps of people and a good vibe down on the wharf. It was pretty cold in the water … and it’s certainly one of the wetter landings I’ve had.”

The festival continues runs through until Sunday.