The winners of the World Heli Challenge's first Young Gun competition, aimed at bringing in talented skiers and snowboarders between the ages of 10 and 17, were announced Monday. The winners are 12-year-old skier Mark Hendrickson from Calgary, Canada, and 12-year-old skater and snowboarder Lyon Farrell from Hawaii.
The World Heli Challenge is a big-mountain and freestyle competition taking place July 27 through August 10 outside Wanaka, New Zealand.
"Given that this was our first time doing this contest, we were astounded at the number of highly qualified applicants," said event founder Tony Harrington. "The decision wasn't easy."
The winners were chosen based on video and photo entries to the World Heli Challenge's Facebook page.
"In my edit I have mostly park because I did not get very many shots in the backcountry," wrote 12-year-old Hendrickson as part of his entry. "But I love to ski big mountain and all aspects of skiing. If I won this comp it would be a dream come true as it is a chance of a lifetime."
Farrell's post read: "I love jumping off rocks and stomping solid lines snowboarding and skating."
Hendrickson and Farrell will receive free entry into the event, valued at $2,200, and a discounted entry to the Junior World Heli Challenge Academy, a one- and two-week accredited training camp that involves coaching by WHC athletes at Treble Cone, education in outdoor activities including backcountry safety, mountaineering, and environmental studies.
"In the end we went with the two athletes that we felt embodied the passion and spirit of this event and who excel in both freestyle and big mountain, display progressive moves, are aesthetically pleasing to watch and demonstrate a futuristic riding style," said Harrington. "The winners also showed competency above their age group."