9th September 2009
The World Heli Challenge has always been heralded as one of the world’s most legendary big mountain ski and snowboard events, praised and idolized by athletes and the industry around the world for the past fifteen years.
Since 2001 the event lay dormant, just waiting for the right time to relaunch on to the international event calendar. True to its colourful character, it did just this in 2009 and went beyond what thought possible.
In brilliant weather and snow conditions, the “VnC Cocktail Downhill” brought the house down in adrenaline and camaraderie amongst the athletes. Starting high on a ridgeline above the Makarora Valley, first skiers, then boarders dropped in, all racing each other head to head to the bottom finish line. There are no rules and there are no regulations. This is a form of freeriding that is part of us from a young age. Every skier or boarder has grown up racing your mates down to the bottom of the hill and this is exactly what this event is about, its just that we use helicopters to get to the top of big mountains and take it to another level.
Line honors in the final event, the “VnC Cocktail Downhill”, went to Ted Davenport (ski), Jackie Passo (Ski), Ralph Backstrom (Snowboard) and Maria Kuzma (Snowboard) and topped off 3 incredible days of competition.
The athletes had no idea what was in store for them next. An “Expression Session” jump was built with people flying everywhere, including Mike Wilson throwing a triple back somersault. But then came the real surprise, instead of being helicoptered back down to the base, everyone was dropped of on the bank of the Makarora River to awaiting jet boats for a fast and furious ride back to the staging area.
With the completion of this final event, the overall World Heli Challenge titles were awarded to Ted Davenport (Men’s Ski), Andy Finch (Men’s Snowboard), Janina Kuzma (Women’s Ski) and Maria Kuzma (Women’s Snowboard).
Ted Davenport (U.S.) recaps “The World Heli Challenge has been amazing! We were blessed with epic weather, epic conditions and incredible venues. Every day I was blown away by where we were dropped off at, I felt like a kid in a candy store!”.
Overall snowboard winner Andy Finch (U.S.) shouts out “I had my best day ever in this event, I know that’s a big claim, but its my best day ever in snowboarding and as cheesy as that is, its money!”
The World Heli Challenge was filmed on HD Definition and 16mm film. Using an Aerial Cineflex, the production team pulled out all stops to ensure that that the quality of the global TV production matches the dramatic location, the incredible talent of the athletes and mind blowing action that is the World Heli Challenge. A 2 part TV series will be screened on TV networks globally from November 2009.
The helicopter accessed competition maybe over, but there’s still plenty of adventure related activities including sky diving, bungy jumping and this Saturday nights grand finale music lineup of Matt Reardon, Drew Campbell and the Slur Tones headlining the “Afterburner Party” at Lake Hawea Hotel.