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The World Heli Challenge 28th August - 12th September 2009

Smith Optics - The World Heli Challenge

This infamous event was on standby for the past 8 years but thanks to the hard work of Tony Harrington and others it has been resurrected. Based out of Lake Hawea, New Zealand, the scenic backdrop became HQ for all event activities. On Aug 28th some of the world best skiers and snowboarders, including Smith Optics sponsored athletes, Ted Davenport, Sam Foster and Geoff Small, arrived at the Lake Hawea Hotel.

The World Heli Challenge brings together a host of athletes representing various backgrounds in ski and snowboard disciplines. A cross breed of alpine racers, terrain park, half pipe athletes and all round free skiers and freeriders meet together where their ability is pushed to limit across three days of helicopter accessed snow sports competition.

The snow had been falling on the south island for the past week, and the word was out that avalanche conditions were improving. Perfect snow conditions await the athletes who have travelled around the globe for the resurrection of one of the worlds most explosive snow events.

The event kicked off with the "freeride" category, with competitors being judged on tricks and all round creativity on the chosen terrain, basically the person having the most fun is certain to take the most points. The athletes were all flown up to the Treblecone by the helicopters on an awe-inspiring ride, arriving to a fresh cover of 25cm of powder and perfect weather. Then the crew of the world's best skiers and snowboarders took to the steep exposed lines of Mt. Albert.

Smith Optics - The World Heli Challenge

Day two, the "Big Mountain" category. The event was to test an athletes ability on very steep terrain with huge cliff drops where technical prowess provides a "wow" factor unlike any other discipline in snow sports. Winning the days event was Ted Daveport.

Smith Optics - 8 times New Zealand National Freeskier Champion - Geoff Small
8 times New Zealand National Freeskier Champion - Geoff Small
Smith Optics - HWC Winner - Ted Davenport favours the Smith Optics I/O
HWC Winner - Ted Davenport favours the Smith Optics I/O

The "VnC Cocktail Downhill" event was the grand finale of the competition where athletes raced head to head together down the mountainside; the first to the bottom and across the line was the winner. A one run race from the start to finish, no course, but simply a starting line...and a finish line. All the men skiers lined up with their skis perpendicular to the hill. The starter threw down the shovel as the starting gun, they all launched forward and the race was on. It was tight for the first 200yds, but as the slope rolled over, Ted Davenport and Geoff "Smalle" Small took off, Geoff trailing just behind Davenport. Davenport then tucked himself into his most prolific racing position and took right to the finish as the winner.

"This is hands down the coolest event, ever. The combination of helicopters, deep NZ powder, jaw-dropping venues, and an amazing crew has made it one kickass event." said Davenport after winning the overall mens ski 1st place. The other Smith Optics sponsored ski athletes overall places were, Geoff Small 3rd and Sam Foster came in 14th, all in all a great result for Smith Optics.

Smith Optics - Mark Welgos -  also wearing Smith Optics I/O
Mark Welgos - also wearing Smith Optics I/O