Competitors at the 2010 World Heli Challenge woke up to a heavy inversion layer and there was question about whether the Extreme Day would run. Bound and determined to make the day a success, event founder Tony Harrington (Harro) and technical director Nick Mills headed out in a helicopter through breaking clouds to assess the situation. They found the perfect venue for the day’s contest and in the end it was an epic day in the mountains.
After a first run by the judges to assess the conditions and let the athletes get an idea of what was in store, the competition was on. From the helicopter landing pad, skiers and snowboarders hiked narrow ridges and perched themselves precariously along the ledges of the mountain.
The judges got the best runs of the day with reasonably soft, chalky snow. It wasn’t long before the angle of the sun changed and much of the terrain was shaded, leading to variable conditions and a more challenging course for many of the competitors. Because of the late start and the snow conditions, the competitors were only able to do one run instead of the planned two runs.
“Travis asked us if he should ride the line and we told him it wasn’t possible."
Highlights of the day included a crazy line by snowboarder Travis Rice and a near disaster when Ted Davenport set off a class two avalanche that he managed to ski out of.
As one of the athletes commented, “Travis asked us if he should ride the line and we told him it wasn’t possible. A second later he jumped in and rode it as easily as if he were riding a groomed intermediate run!”
Rice was the obvious choice for overall men’s snowboarder followed by Japan’s Shin Biyahima, New Zealand’s Will Jackways, American Andy Finch and Canadian Chris Rasman.
“It’s New Zealand to the max, total immersion,” Rice commented when asked about his experience at this year’s event. “This is truly an epic contest; the terrain is here, the riders are here, and the heart of the event is here - unfortunately this year, the snow wasn’t here.”
“No matter where you are you’re only batting 60% on getting good snow anyways,” he added. “So here’s to next year… I’ll be back. Snowboarding needs more events like these to back what it’s really all about.”
Other awards presented include:
Freestyle Charging Award - Shannan Yates
Best “Rear View” - Luke Potts
Driver Dip Stick Award - Elysia Gibb
Harden Up - Ralph Backstrom (for being bloodied two years in a row)
Media Star Award - Blizzird (the rescue dog)
The winners in each category get free entry to the 2011 World Heli Challenge. Snowboarders also get free entry to the King of the Hill event in Alaska (which Travis won in April 2010) while Skiers receive the same for the return of the World Extreme Skiing Championships, also in Alaska.