Lake Wanaka, NZ—The Freestyle Day of the World Heli Challenge was held yesterday, July 31, in a stunning venue off of Mt. Albert that has never before been used for the competition and may well have never been skied before at all.
“The conditions were epic,” said event founder Tony Harrington. “We couldn’t have asked for any better. The venue provided the perfect terrain for testing the skills of the competitors.”
Every athlete got two runs in with some of the strongest performances yet seen at a World Heli Challenge event, both by the men and the women.
Judging at this event is different than that found at most freestyle and big mountain competitions. Rather than having set criteria, the judges will focus on overall impression and have communicated to the athletes that they need to represent what they do best and not try to be someone they aren’t. The judges will review video footage of the competition, and take a matter of days to select the final winners.
“The event is built around our shared passion for skiing and snowboarding and we want to build on that by letting the athletes show us what they do best,” said technical director, Nick Mills.
This was definitely evident in some of the highlights today where New Zealand’s Jake Koia threw a massive floating 720 while two-time World Heli Challenge Champion, Ted Davenport, found two cliffs to drop.
Skier, Mark Hendrickson, 13, from Calgary, left no doubt that he was the right pick for the Young Gun position this year after linking technical maneuvers down multiple features on the venue.
Luke Potts, of the UK, gets upside down.
Freestyle runs will be uploaded to the athletes page of the World Heli Challenge website at worldhelichallenge.com. In addition to the judges vote for the overall athletes there will also be a people’s vote with prizes for the winners.
The winners will be announced at the “World Heli Challenge Showcase” film festival evening on August 11th at the Lake Wanaka Centre.
Stay tuned for coverage of the Extreme Day to follow.