With only one day of the unique three day Rip Curl World Heli Challenge competition remaining to run – the Backcountry Heli Extreme Day * competitors awoke this morning to the news that the event would again be postponed due to cloudy conditions.
“We won’t be running the Extreme Day in anything but the best conditions,” said event organiser Tony Harrington.”The safety of competitors is our number one concern. But it looks like we’ll definitely be flying tomorrow. A big high pressure system is approaching New Zealand’s South Island and we’re nearly certain tomorrow will bring blue skies and no wind”.
The venue for the Backcountry Heli Extreme Day looks likely to be an area deep in the Southern Alps known as ‘Extreme Arena’ * a natural Amphitheatre about 400m across at the top.
“It’ll be heart stopping stuff for those of us lucky enough to witness it first hand” said Tony Harrington. “The first half of the decent will be pretty knarly, giving competitors the chance to show their big mountain riding skills. The lower part though has a series of super fun roll-overs and natural wind lips which will bring the spirit of fun free-riding into the extreme event”
It is expected that snow conditions will be good, with a cover of fresh powder snow of at least 12 inches and deeper in parts.
According to Dave ‘Gravy’ Keam of Australia, currently in 5th place overall in the men’s skiing division, “We’re all pretty eager to get up there. It’s been such a fun festival of free-riding, and the standard has been amazing. You just can’t beat jumping in helicopters with a heap of your buddies, heading into some amazing big mountain terrain, and cuttin’ loose. Gotta be one of the funniest events in the world!”
Work is now very close to finished on the massive big air jump on a hill overlooking Wanaka, where the Pulsate Wanaka Big Air event will be run on Saturday night as a finale for the Rip Curl World Heli Challenge. Truck loads of snow are being brought into town and packed onto a huge scaffolding tower to make a jump that will have competitors flying up to 25 meters in length and well over 5 meters above the ground.
“This Big Air event has turned into a truly international event. It’s beyond my wildest dreams to have truly world class competitors like Michi Albin, Brian Iguchi, Devun Walsh, BJ Leines, Jeremy Jones and Rob Kingwell. Together with New Zealand’s own Aaron Jamieson (last years winner) and Olli Bourke, as well as many others this event is going to be fantastic”.
Another big addition to this year’s Pulsate Wanaka Big Air is the inclusion of skiers in the event. “This year we’ve got some of the very best new school trick skiers in the world who’ll be demonstrating tricks never before seen in the Southern Hemisphere” said Tony Harrington. “Skiing is currently going through a new revolution. Skiers are now performing tricks pioneered by their snowboarding cousins. There’s lots of new energy running in skiing and this Big Air will be a showcase for the world of where these guys are at. People like JF Cusson, Shane Szocs, Brad Holmes, Josh Lubek – it’s going to be awesome!”.