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The World Heli Challenge

The World Heli Challenge

[ August 5, 2010 - 1:12pm ]
by Colette Maddock
The World Heli Challenge is back again this year. The first days have proven too poor of conditions to ski in, but that isn’t deterring athletes from shredding in Wanaka, New Zealand.

The World Heli Challenge is running until August 8, but has so far been overrun by harsh weather conditions. This helicopter-accessed competition seeks the best all around rider within an eight-day window of competition. The first World Heli Challenge took place in 1995, and they continued the competition through 2001—last year was the first competition since then. The “Extreme Day” and the “Freeride Day” were scheduled for August 1 and 2 this year, but have been pushed back due to less-than-ideal conditions.

On August 3, a “Freeride Day” was attempted, but avalanche conditions forced the riders to wait at least another day to be lifted into the backcountry. The “Freeride Day” will showcase riders’ freeski skills in the backcountry, where they’ll pull tricks commonly seen at the X Games.  Even though the official “Freeride Day” was cancelled, the athletes held an un-judged freestyle jam session anyway.

The other event in the competition is the “Extreme Day.” Skiers and snowboarders will ride steep backcountry terrain, using the natural mountain features as their stage to show the judges what they’ve got.

Once the two events are completed, the scores from the two days will be added together, and the highest-scoring man and woman will be crowned World Heli Challenge Champions. They’ll also receive entry into both the King of the Hill and World Extreme Skiing Championships held in Valdez, Alaska.

This year, they decided against the “Chinese Downhill” event—where everyone starts at the top of the mountain and heads downhill together, and the first to make it down wins—but they’re considering bringing it back next year. On August 7, there will also be a big air “street style” snow show at the Hawea Hotel, where they’ll bring in snow and set up jumps on the street to close competition with a bang.

For more information, visit

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will showcase riders’ freeski

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