When the world's best skiers and snowboarders converge on a mountain in one of the most beautiful spots in the world, blizzards aren't enough to stop them.
The World Heli Challenge in Wanaka, New Zealand was nearly scratched when warm storms hit the region two days ago, throwing the competition into doubt. Not to be deterred, event organizers consulted with the athletes and everyone agreed to move from a competition day to an expression day.
"The World Heli Challenge is all about adapting to the environment and whatever nature provides," said founder Tony Harrington.
Despite blue skies and no wind on the first day, conditions remained challenging for the world class competitors. According to Nick Mills, head judge and technical director, "The success of the day was due to quality decision making from the safety crew and a positive and professional response from the athletes. It was obviously less than ideal and potentially hazardous conditions for everyone, yet we managed to responsibly move around the mountain and have an epic day together in the hills."
The competition will run through August 8, 2010.
Photos: Courtesy of Tony Harrington