World Heli Challenge brings together a select group of the best skiers and snowboarders from around the globe to compete in a unique helicopter-accessed competition like no other.
The goal is to seek out the athlete that is the best "all rounder" combining their big mountain, backcountry and freestyle skills to showcase their overall talent and abilities.
The World Heli Challenge came to life in 1995, putting Wanaka, NZ on the map as a world class snow and adventure lifestyle destination.
While competing alongside some of the pioneers of extreme skiing including Shane McConkey, Brant Moles, and Chris Anthony at the World Extreme Skiing Championships in Alaska, World Heli Challenge founder, Tony Harrington (Harro) was extremely impressed with the level of camaraderie amongst the athletes.
On the same trip, Harro met Nick Perata, founder of the legendary "King of the Hill" snowboarding event in Valdez, Alaska. Together with a handful of the worlds most influential snowboarders including Steve Graham, Jim Hale, Dani "Kiwi" Meier, Jason Beaton, Lori Gibbs and Pepi Ahonen, the concept of creating an event similar to "King of the Hill" in New Zealand was hatched.
With help from Perata, many of the athletes made the trip to Wanaka and each pitched in a total of $600 to buy helicopter time. The event incorporated the same three discipline format as "King of the Hill", including Downhill, Freestyle and Extreme. The only difference was that the "timed" downhill event became a "Chinese Downhill", with everyone starting together at the top of the mountain. First to the bottom wins!
The event ran and continued to grow year over year for seven years from 1995 to 2001.
In 2009 it all came together and the World Heli Challenge made a magnificent come back.
The 2013 competition window spans from August 4th - 17th and is jam-packed with events, music, skiing, snowboarding, adventure, and celebration culminating with a Showcase Awards night on Thursday 22nd August when the winners will be announced during a stellar night of world-class films and photos from the Canon Shootout.
The two core elements of the World Heli Challenge are the "Extreme Day" and the "Freestyle Day" held on backcountry terrain in the awesome majestic Southern Alps surrounding Wanaka.
The Extreme Day sees athletes riding big, steep mountains, dropping cliffs. The goal is to see how well a rider can "flash" it down the course - riding hard, fast, in control and using the features of the mountain to provide a "wow" factor to set them apart from their competitors.
The Freestyle Day showcases an athlete's acrobatic and aerial skills. They take what they've learnt in parks and resorts and apply it to the natural features they find in the backcountry, pushing the limits of what is possible in freestyle.
The scores from both days are combined to deduce the best all-round snow athlete in four categories - men's ski, men's snowboard, women's ski and women's snowboard.
The judges then select an overall men and women's "X Factor" winner who take home the trophy, win a week filming at Points North Heli in Cordova, Alaska and automatically receive free entry into the 2014 World Heli Challenge to defend their title.