New event at Heli Challenge

Top young skiers and boarders will get their chance to shine at the inaugural Junior World Heli Challenge, starting on Friday.

Heli Challenge

The event is the forerunner to the well established week-long World Heli Challenge, which sees competitors taken by helicopter to back country locations where they seek to impress judges with their skill and daring antics.

Three local kids are among up to 10 boys taking part in the 12 to 16 year old competition, return competitors Lake Hawea brothers Hank, 15, and Finn, 13, Bilous and Ben Hume, 15, of Clyde.

Event founder and director Tony Harrington said in the past some young skiers had competed as hand-picked Young Guns so it was a natural progression to create a tailored event.

The event will be held during a one-week weather window and will include one heli-accessed competition day and back country tuition, mountain awareness training, snow days and adventure activities.

The World Heli Challenge begins a week later and includes two competition days – a freestyle day and an extreme day.

There will also be a strong local line-up with 2012 winner Will Jackways and Wanaka legends Sam Smoothy and Fraser McDougall. International competitors include snowboarder Antti Autti from Finland and 2012 women’s champ Jacqui Edgerly, of the United States.

The event climax will be the iON Showcase Awards and Canon Shootout at the lake Wanaka Centre. “It’s a film festival on steroids,” Harrington said.