A lack of sponsorship funds has cancelled this yearâ€™s edition of the World Heli Challenge. The big mountain skiing and snowboarding competition is now set to take place in the Mt. Cook National Park region of New Zealand from August 29 to September 12, 2009.
Contest officials say that the World Heli Challenge in 2009 will feature the cream of the worldâ€™s top snowboard and ski athletes, representing their respective brands while competing head to head. Three days of helicopter-accessed riding will go down over a two-week period, allowing for perfect weather and snow conditions for the Big Mountain, Backcountry Freestyle and Downhill competition to take place.
â€œThe event sounds like some ridiculous fantasy,â€ says freeskier Drew Tabke of Alta, Utah, USA, currently ranked fourth overall in the world. â€œIt looks like the most incredible experience someone could ever have. If I got the opportunity [to participate], I would be endlessly grateful.â€
Two-time World Champion Chris Davenport of Aspen, Colo., USA has already confirmed his entry into the 2009 event. â€œThe World Heli Challenge is my favorite competition on earth. No other ski or snowboard event combines freestyle, extreme and psycho downhill skills like the Heli Challenge,” says Davenport.
Despite the cancellation of this year’s event, a select group of riders and media is expected to gather this September in New Zealand for a couple days of heli-accessed filming and shooting in anticipation of next yearâ€™s main event.