2012 World Heli Challenge winners announced

2012 World Heli Challenge winners announced

Two weeks of skiing and all around good times in New Zealand would tickle most anyone’s fancy. For a handful of skiers, photographers and cinematographers that’s exactly what they get as part of the World Heli Challenge (WHC), the annual event that combines two days of exciting on-hill competition for skiers and snowboarders—the Extreme Day and the Freestyle Day—with seperate challenges for photogs and filmers.

Allotting two weeks of time for the event allows organizers to host the Extreme Day and the Freestyle Day in optimal conditions, while granting plenty of time for photographers and filmers to produce strong bodies of work. This year, the weather cooperated and the respective on-hill competitions were held early on. This enabled all participants to roam the hills surrounding Wanaka in the subsequent days, and to produce a stunning collection of visuals.


Photo by Mark Von Roy, courtesy WHC.

The contest wrapped up on Thursday with the ION Showcase Awards and Canon Shootout, hosted at the Lake Wanaka Centre. Awards were given for photography, film and skiing performance.

New this year, skiers and snowboarders were pitted against each other for the X Factor award—the ultimate prize. One male and one female would reign victorious above all others, and after deliberation by the judges skier Jacqui Edgerly (USA) and snowboarder Will Jackways (NZ) would share the honor. In a statement released by the WHC organizers, Jacqui and Will were chosen “based on their overall aggressive performance and not necessarily on points earned during the competition.”

“Jacqui took the prize for her determination and amazing line choice pushing her limits,” said head ski judge Dion Newport. “Showing why she was invited to the WHC by skiing a line on the extreme day that had a lot of exposure and risk. Not landing her run put her back in second position but her amazing show for the cameras and viewers earned her the X Factor Award.”

As the skiers were ripping chutes and slashing pow turns, seven photographers were snapping away, amassing more than 25,000 images (collectively). Photographers also captured lifestyle imagery. Each contestant submitted one image to each of five categories to be judged. Winners were awarded a $1,000 cash prize for each category, and are as follows:


  • Best Extreme Day Shot — Antony Hansen
  • Best Freestyle Day Shot — Miles Holden
  • Best Carlton Dry Branded Shot — Mitch Stubbs
  • Best Exide Batteries Heli Branded Shot — Tess Carney
  • The Canon Shot — Mark Von Roy


Photo by Miles Holden, courtesy WHC.

A handful of filmers were also capturing action both on-hill and off, working to produce mini documentaries that would be judged during the Showcase Awards. Five five-minute films were shown to the audience at the Lake Wanaka Centre. According to WHC staff, the judges had a difficult time selecting winners as each film “captured the spirit of the two weeks of heli-accessed skiing and snowboarding and all of the off-snow adventure from a different perspective.” Despite the trouble the judges faced, winners ultimately had to be selected; they too received a $1,000 cash prize for each category, and they are as follows:


  • The Canon Shootout Best Documentary — Tomohiro Fujii
  • Best Carlton Dry content placement — Tomohiro Fujii
  • Best Extreme Sequence — Mic Simpson
  • Best Freestyle Sequence — Mic Simpson
  • Best ION POV use — Sean Balmer


Photo by Antony Hansen, courtesy WHC.

The Showcase Awards concluded with the highly anticipated announcement of the 2012 World Heli Challenge champions. The athletes’ best runs were shown on the big screen before the winners were named.

Freestyle Day


  • 1st place — Natalie Segal
  • 2nd place — Jacqui Edgerly
  • 3rd place — Victoria Beattie


  • 1st place — Markus Eder
  • 2nd place — Sam Smoothy
  • 3rd place — Nick Devore

Extreme Day


  • 1st place — Natalie Segal
  • 2nd place — Jacqui Edgerly
  • 3rd place — Victoria Beattie


  • 1st place — Neil Williman
  • 2nd place — Markus Eder
  • 3rd place — Nick Devore


*Chosen for performance over the two days of competition.

Top three women:

  • 1) Natalie Segal
  • 2) Jacqui Edgerly
  • 3) Victoria Beattie

Top three men:

  • 1) Marcus Eder
  • 2) Sam Smoothy
  • 3) Nick Devore

The documentaries, in addition to a World Heli Challenge overview video, will be posted online in the coming days; stay tuned as we’ll feature them on our video page as soon as they become available. All of the photos entered to the competition will also be displayed in a gallery at worldhelichallenge.com.

To see images that were shared on Instagram during the event, check out the hashtag #WHC12 via Gramfeed. Additional content is posted on the World Heli Challenge Facebook page.

Heli garage to mountain summit—take the ride.

*Note on judging, as stated in the official WHC press release: Event organizers continued with the innovative online judging format, drawing on the experience of internationally regarded judges from around the world to review each run and analyze in detail when deciding this year’s winners. Dion Newport and Mike Hygemann were the onsite ski and snowboard judges and were able to consult with the “virtual” judges about the day’s conditions and any other specifics that may not have been discerned from the videos.

Upgrade Your Inbox

Don't waste time seeking out the best skiing content; we'll send it all right to you.