NZ Freeheel Challenge expands competition to include alpine ski tourers

Posted By: The Ski Channel on September 21, 2010 5:43 pm

The more physical and demanding forms of skiing will be on display this weekend at Treble Cone, as telemarkers and ski tourers descend on the Wanaka ski area for the Summit NZ Freeheel Challenge.

The competition kicks off on Saturday, September 25 with a classic giant slalom race offering divisions for both telemark and ski touring. A fun all-mountain contest will pit telemarkers against ski tourers in the afternoon. In a style similar to the Amazing Race, clues will be dotted around the mountain with a few wacky challenges along the way. The competition will require smart and tactical decision-making to get to the clues – whether to use the lift or to skin and traverse.

Originally a telemark event, the Summit NZ Freeheel Challenge event organizers have broadened the competition in response to the growth of ski touring participants over the past few years.

Photo: Telemark skiers like this man picture above, won’t be the only discipline represented at the Freeheel Challenge - Credit: Treble Cone

Ski touring is a form of backcountry skiing, distinguished by the skier’s heels being free to perform a natural walking motion while ascending and traversing. A skin of ‘one-way material’ is attached to the base of the ski, gripping the snow to prevent backsliding. The heel-pierces are then locked into place on the bindings before descending the run on skis.

A large field of both disciplines, traveling from across the South Island is expected for the competition.

Weather permitting, Treble Cone will stage a more casual half day ski touring and off-piste downhill challenge in the Saddle on Sunday.

Lonestar Wanaka will host the Saturday evening prize giving providing a few beers and nibbles. The event is generously supported by Silveretta bindings, Summit, Mainly Tramping in Wanaka, Lowe Alpine, Black Diamond and Salewa with plenty of prizes for winners and participants.