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Extreme Duck Racing: Epic victory for duck 1310 at Cameron Falls


Duck 1310, purchased by Danielle Normandin, pulled off one of the all-time great Extreme Duck Racing victories to take gold in Sunday’s grand final at the Cameron Falls.

The astonishing victory, as a tree branch cruelly robbed duck 159 just metres from the line, capped a week of racing featuring 1,500 ducks at one of the territory’s many stunning waterfalls.

The ducks competed behind closed doors earlier in July to comply with Covid-19 pandemic restrictions. The races were televised from July 13-19, 2020.

Title sponsor Canadian Tire raised $15,000 for JumpStart and the Food First Foundation through NWT residents purchasing ducks for $10 each.

Five 300-duck heats over flat water at the top of the falls produced 25 semi-finalists, each of which had to tackle Cameron Falls for real.

The nine finalists took part in a grand final broadcast on Sunday, July 19, at 7pm.

The winning duck earns its owner a $1,000 Canadian Tire gift card.

On this page, find a Q&A about the broadcasts.

Head to Cabin Radio on Facebook for the full video playlist or watch them right here on this page.

Watch: Final
Watch: Semi-Final 3
Watch: Semi-Final 2
Watch: Semi-Final 1
Watch: Heat 5
Watch: Heat 4
Watch: Heat 3

Watch: Heat 2
Watch: Heat 1

Extreme Duck Racing Q&A

How is this year’s racing different?

Normally, the ducks race at the Yellowknife River bridge in one race to determine a winner. This year, there will be five 300-duck heats at the top of the Cameron Falls followed by three semi-finals and a final down the waterfall itself.

How do ducks get through the heats?

Your duck has to be one of the top five finishers in each heat to progress. Our finish-line adjudicator, AJ, will be seen in each heat plucking ducks from the finish as they arrive.

What’s the course?

In the heats, the ducks stay above the falls on a short, flat course taking them around a cliff before a sprint finish. In the finals, the ducks drop from the bridge just behind the falls, slalom through a short whitewater course at the top, plunge through the waterfall and then emerge at the finish – unless they get sucked into Dead Duck Alley, in which case their hopes may be dashed…

Is this being broadcast live?

No. To ensure we didn’t attract a crowd during Covid-19, we filmed this secretly at the Cameron Falls earlier in July, once all the ducks had sold out at Canadian Tire. We’re releasing the footage slowly all week to build up the suspense!

During filming, which took place over the course of one day and had all necessary permits in place, we had nine Cabin Radio helpers on-site but absolutely no spectators.

How many ducks did you lose forever?

We had a range of duck safety measures in place and to the best of our knowledge, no duck was left behind. (If you know different, you can report a missing duck to us.)

Did you really carry 1,500 rubber ducks to Cameron Falls?

We got about halfway through lugging every last duck to the falls before we realized that in reality, we only needed around 400 ducks to successfully stage all the heats and finals, with some ducks subbing in for others. So you won’t see every single individual duck in the broadcasts – we reassigned ducks in each heat to represent all the different numbers. (Slightly lessens the risk of environmental duck contamination, too.)

But wait, I specifically bought duck number ___ because of its fantastic swimming ability and superior aerodynamics.

No you didn’t.

It’s a fix!

It isn’t. Nobody running the races had any information about which duck was associated with which owner. We only collected that information from Canadian Tire a week after filming at Cameron Falls, so as to produce the on-screen graphics.

So wait, you guys already know who won?

Yes. Since we needed to film everything in advance to be sure of safety during Covid-19, our video editor and commentators know who won. (Nobody else does. Sssh. You’ll find out on Sunday!)

What’s the format of the finals?

Twenty-five ducks make it through the heats, after which there are three semi-finals, each with either eight or nine ducks. Those ducks descend through the waterfall and the first three ducks to reach the bottom from each semi-final are advanced to the final, which is held in exactly the same way. First duck to the bottom wins!

What if fewer than three ducks actually make it to the bottom?

It’s a tricky old waterfall, that’s for sure. If fewer than three ducks reach the bottom, ducks are advanced on countback: we go back up the course and the duck that made it the farthest is declared to have finished in second place. Whoever’s next behind it is awarded third, and so on.

Who are the commentators?

Ollie Williams is Cabin Radio’s head of news and has commentated for the BBC at five Olympic Games. Luke Pontin is a young Yellowknife resident with a bright future in play-by-play. (Check out Luke’s work at his local bike park.)

What are the prizes?

According to Canadian Tire, the first prize is a $1,000 Canadian Tire gift card; second prize is a $500 Canadian Tire git card; and third prize is a $100 Canadian Tire gift card.