New levels of excitement for the 2011 World Heli Challenge

Posted By: The Ski Channel on July 19, 2011 9:19 am

Lake Wanaka, NZ – Sixty of the world’s top skiers and snowboarders, including World Champions, Olympians, and both legends and new comers will converge on Wanaka, New Zealand this week to participate in one of the most prestigious freeride events on the planet, the World Heli Challenge. This year the event has risen to new levels adding a new judging system, a fundraiser for SOS at Snow Park, a red carpet Gala Awards night and a new media Shootout.

“One of the most exciting elements of staging this event is the ability to create the many innovative events and media projects around it,” said event founder Tony Harrington. “The World Heli Challenge has always been about developing cutting edge concepts and setting benchmarks within the snowsports industry,” said Harrington.  “This will be even more relevant with the new judging system.”

The Shootout will be bringing 15 of the world’s leading photographers and cinematographers to Wanaka to shoot for a variety of award categories, incorporating action, drama, lifestyle, landscape and story telling.  Two long lens cameras will film every athlete’s run which will then be posted on the website.  The audio-visual show is set to be astounding as the photographers present their award category images, followed by a five-minute mini documentary by each of the seven cinematographers, capturing the two weeks through their own creative minds. 

After, an acclaimed international panel will judge each run. Athlete’s and their friends, fans, families and supporters can also vote for their preferred winners and see all the action in detail. “Up until now, judges have been required to make what can sometimes be hasty and inconsistent scoring decisions whilst on the mountain during the staging of the event,” said Harrington.   “We believe the online judging format is the best and fairest way to award athletes their points and embraces the technologies available to make our sport better.”

The 2011 World Heli Challenge will culminate on Thursday, August 11 at a red carpet Gala Awards at the Lake Wanaka Centre, where the winners will be announced. The Gala Awards evening is open to the public with a limited number of tickets at $35. “The Gala Awards night promises to be an exciting evening for the athletes, photographers, cinematographers, VIP’s, media, and general public,” said Harrington. “In addition to announcement of the World Heli Challenge champions, winners of the photography and filming Shootout awards will also be announced. “

This year event organizers are bringing some of the excitement to visitors and the people of Wanaka.  A media launch will be held on Sunday, July 24 at 3pm on the lakefront across from Pembroke Park. Two helicopters in over the lake and several of the competitors will be on hand to sign autographs and for interviews. Additionally on each of the two competition days, top athletes will launch from the lakefront at the same location.

Athletes from eight countries will be represented including, returning 2x WHC champion Ted Davenport, U.S., current Freeride World Tour champion Anne-Flore Marxer from Switzerland who was the second most Googled Swiss sports person next to Roger Federer in April last year, Markus Eder who was second in this years “Red Bull Line Catcher” staged in France and Australian skier Chris Booth, one of the hottest international free skiers in the world today. 
The New Zealand athletes including boarders Will Jackway’s, Jake Koia, Abby Lockhart, Maria and Janina Kuzma and Sam Smoothy are all forces to be reckoned with and have huge respect from the international snow sports community in the big mountain and back country snow environment. The full line up of athletes can be found at

The World Heli Challenge, SOS and Snow Park have joined forces to host the SOS Launch Party on Monday, 25 July at Snow Park. The evening will include night riding, film footage taken in New Zealand for Warren Miller’s Intervention, and highlight footage from previous World Heli Challenge events as well as live music and a silent auction. Several of the World Heli Challenge athletes will be in attendance.  Tickets are $39 Adult/$34 Student/$17 Child and include night riding as well as entrance to the party at the Woolshed. Every adult and student ticket purchaser will be entered into a draw for a day of heli-skiing with Southern Lakes Heliski.  $10 from every ticket purchased will be donated to SOS Outreach.