The World Heli Challenge freeride and freeski event debuts August 21st to September 5th 2009 in Wanaka, New Zealand.

The World Heli Challenge consists of 3 days of helicopter-accessed competition, staged over a two-week period to allow for perfect weather conditions. Athletes vie for top honors in Extreme, Free Ride and Downhill events and the coveted overall World Heli Challenge Champion. The event is returning to the scene after many years off.

“The World Heli Challenge offers the athletes the best conditions of which to ultimately test their all round ability as a snow athlete. The unrivaled camaraderie among athletes, the two weeks of continuous adrenaline activities that the Wanaka region is renowned for and the incredible helicopter skills of Harvey Hutton and the Back Country Helicopter pilots make this event quite simply one of a kind,” explains event organizer Tony Harrington.

The are 50 spots available for athletes, divided into 18 male snowboarders, 18 male skiers, 7 female boarders and 7 female skiers.

Some of the named athletes to take part in the World Heli Challenge include:
Matthew Annetts, Jackson Hole: Overall title winner of the 2009 North Face Masters
Janina Kuzma: Ski winner of the Engadine Snow in St Moritz
Maria Kuzma: 3rd in the Engadine and 5th in the World Tour Finals in Verbier, Switzerland
Ralph Backstrom: 4th place overall North Face Masters World Tour
Rachel Sheidow: 2x Dicks Ditch J.H. winner and former 3rd Alyeska Extremes, Alaska
Chris Davenport: 2xWorld Champion and inaugural World Heli Challenge Champion

“The World Heli Challenge is my favorite competition on earth. No other ski or snowboard event combines freestyle, extreme and psycho downhill skills like the Heli Challenge,” says Davenport.

Kiwi sensation Jossie Wells had his first taste of international acclaim when he was a forerunner of this event at just 9 years old. This time he’s back as an athlete along with his protégé brother Byron – two of the hottest ski kids in the world making big waves. Confirmed athletes also include Australia’s Chris Booth, Andrea Berchtold, Charlie Timmins and Boen Ferguson and the list is growing daily.

For more info and photos contact Tony Harrington,