We’ve said it in the past and we say it again: if you have any desire to participate in extreme sports… go to New Zealand.
Friday sees the beginning of the WORLD HELI CHALLENGE, the most exotic and extreme free ride and free ski event on the international snow sports calendar, August 29th – September 12th 2009.
This is a 3-day Heli Challenge over a 2 week period to ensure the best weather and best conditions possible. Athletes will vie for top honours in Extreme, Free Ride and Downhill events and the coveted overall World Heli Challenge Champion.
QUIKSILVER, that name synonomous with the heritage and culture of surfing, skateboarding and snowboarding, are the official sponsors for this legendary invitation-only competition.
“To have a partner like Quiksilver on board is epic,” said World Heli Challenge director Tony Harrington. “Quiksilver is a company who shares the same passion and vision that we hold for the World Heli Challenge. It’s a perfect fit. Quiksilver’s history and credibility in the industry is legendary and it typifies adventure lifestyle sports and the social environment of the Challenge itself.”
There are only 50 spots available for athletes, divided into 18 male snowboarders, 18 male skiers. 7 female boarders and 7 female skiers. Hmmm … hardly seems fair to me! No, no, don’t fret – I’m just funning… but as a woman…. just kidding!
The World Heli Challenge brings together a host of athletes representing various backgrounds in ski and snowboard disciplines. A cross breed of alpine racers, terrain park, half pipe athletes and all round free skiers and freeriders meet together where their ability is pushed to the limit across three days of helicopter accessed snow sports competition. The event is held in the Mt Aspiring National Park, adjacent to the magnificent Lake Hawea and Makarora Valley near Wanaka, in New Zealand’s South Island.
Riders will battle it out in “Big Mountain”, “Freeride” and “Downhill” divisions in terrain that is only accessible by helicopter in the Mount Aspiring National Park region of New Zealand’s Southern Alps. Every competitor will be tested both physically and mentally in the challenge, which is unique to every other snow event in the world. The overall goal of the World Heli Challenge is to find the best all-round skier and snowboarder.
Some of the athletes who will take part in the World Heli Challenge include:
- Matthew Annetts, Jackson Hole: Overall title winner of the 2009 North Face Masters;
- Ralph Backstrom – 4th place overall North Face Masters World Tour;
- Janina Kuzma – Ski winner of the Engadine Snow in St Moritz;
- Rachel Sheidow – 2 x Dicks Ditch J.H. winner and former 3rd Alyeska Extremes, Alaska;
- Chris Davenport – 2 x World Champion and inaugural World Heli Challenge Champion;
- Maria Kuzma – 3rd in the Engadine and 5th in the World Tour Finals in Verbier, Switzerland;
- Australia’s Chris Booth, Andrea Berchtold, Charlie Timmins and Boen Ferguson;
- plus Kiwi sensation Jossie Wells along with his protégé brother Byron – two of the hottest ski kids in the world making big waves.
Event organiser Tony Harrington says: “The World Heli Challenge offers the athletes the best conditions in which to ultimately test their all round ability as a snow athlete. The unrivalled camaraderie among athletes, the two weeks of continuous adrenaline activities that the Wanaka region is renowned for and the incredible helicopter skills of Harvey Hutton and the Back Country Helicopter pilots make this event quite simply one of a kind.”
The three major events are:
The “Big Mountain” event tests an athletes ability on very steep terrain where huge cliff drops and technical prowess provide a “wow” factor unlike any other discipline in snow sports.
The “Freeride” event is held on undulating terrain where freestyle and aerial maneuvers tests the acrobatic skills of an athlete – basically the person having the most fun is certain to take the most points.
The “VnC Cocktail Downhill” event is the grand finale of the competition where athletes races head to head together down the mountainside, the first to the bottom and across the line wins.
This competition will test every competitor both physically and mentally during the challenge. It is unique to every other snow event in the world. The overall goal of the World Heli Challenge is to find the best all-round skier and snowboarder.
Tony Harrington, the organiser of the event and the talent behind these wonderful photographs, has always been on the cutting edge of what is humanly possible. The result is the best adventure and action sports content in the world that has featured on TV networks, magazines and online environments globally including NBC, National Geographic, FOX Sports, CNN and other major networks.