The Extreme Day of the World Heli Challenge was held Monday in New Zealand, the final portion of the two-day contest. The heli-staging area took the form of a competitor-laden barge adrift on the South Island's Lake Wanaka. From there, athletes were flown to nearby Mount Albert to contest a myriad of spires, chutes and cliffs on the powder-coated steeps of the eastern face.
Judges will be viewing video of both days of the contest in order to determine the winners. The top scorers will be announced on Aug. 11 at the World Heli Challenge Showcase film festival at the Lake Wanaka Centre.
"It was an epic day," said Kiwi pro skier Sam Smoothy, who launched a couple of 60-footers in a nearly flawless run. "I've never heard of anything like it being done in NZ -- maybe British Columbia or Norway, but flying from a boat on Lake Wanaka is unreal. I was stoked to put a good run down. We usually have two runs, but it's not guaranteed, so you have to make every one count."
Australian Nat Segal, a competitor on the Freeskiing World Tour, was a highlight amongst the female skiers. She dropped a 30-foot cliff onto the main face, followed by some aggressive straight-lining through a steep and narrow chute, only to come undone on her exit, but winning appraisal all the same.
NZ snowboarder Dave Saxton navigated an area of the face that remained untouched the rest of the day. His top section included some of biggest airs of the day, but the highlight was surely the lower half. Risking a hairy entry into an exposed powder stash, Saxton rode unfazed through a succession of tight chutes and finally straight-lined out into the finish arena.
Two-time World Heli Challenge champion Ted Davenport was injured in a crash on the second day of the competition.
Stay tuned for updates on the winners of the World Heli Challenge.