Greetings from Lake Wanaka, one of the most glorious cornerson all of God’s Green. Located in the southwest portion of New Zealand’s South Island, in the fabled Southern Alps, Wanak nestles up on the shores of an idyllic Alpine lake surrounded by snow-capped peaks.
Within a half-hour’s drive are the commercial snow “fields” of Treble Cone and Cardrona. But the focus of locals and visitors a like in Wanaka is on the surrounding backcountry, the stunning venue for the Rip Curl World Heli Challenge.
After two down days, event organizer and Wanaka’s unofficial mayor Tony Harrington is signaling the green light for the first day of competition at the Rip Curl World Heli Challenge. Today will be the “Freeride/Freestyle” competition. Not to be confused with the extreme competition (which happens on the next flyable day), the Freeride day features the strong field of Southern Hemi competitors and a smattering of world-class talent from across the globe hucking big off a combination of natural terrain transfers and man-made hits and kickers. Competitors will be judged on their entire “freeriding” run. Heli-accessed terrain with huge hits and powder landings high in the Wanaka backcountry.This could be fun.
Will it be as fun as the beach party thrown at Rip Curl’s notorious Lake House (aptly named Faulty Towers sic). It was a certified RAGER. I left at three in the morning and felt like I was sneaking out early it was still going off so hard. I counted at least five distinctly separate food fights, the raw sausage war and the pasta salad attack being the most nnotable.
Aussie rider Jason Onley got tossed off the patio down to the hot tub below, sustaining a nasty hipper in the process. He is reportedly “fucking pissed” and on the war path for the perps,allegedly a mob of at least six Kiwis. The barbeque grill also ended up the hot tub at one point.
Colorado rider Julie Larson and a Swedish pro skier known to me only at “Johanna” slithered into a pair of superstretchy Rip Curl “Elasto” wetsuits for the occasion and danced all night in rubber.
It was one of the parties of the year, guarns, and the Rip Curl crew should be proud. The key ingredient? A tub of ice cold Red Bull strategically located in the middle of the dancefloor.
Stay tuned for news from today’s competition. For now, this is Snowboard Life’s Ewan Morrison from Lake Wanaka, South Island, New Zealand, signing off.