After waiting for seemed like years, the sun came out and the World Heli Challenge was on way.
The first event to get off was the Freeride event. They dropped us off at the top of the venue and gave us all one hour to cruz down the course and build whatever jumps/jibs we could find. It was pretty amazing to me how well everyone worked together to make this simple hill turn into madness. There were multiple jumps and little features in every direction you looked. The event was phenomenal. It was everything that i had expected it to be. Kids were throwing down all kinds of sick tricks and stopping them. At the end off the day we skied down to the pick up zone and got back into the heli. This turned out to be just as exciting as the event. The pilots that were flying us are complete cowboys who are not afraid to push their machines to the limit. After getting the ride of my life we set down, gave some high-fives and went back home to get ready for the next day.
The sun came out even stronger the next day for the Big Mountain event. I was thinking that since there were some athletes that skied in the park most of the time (and didn't even know how to put a beacon on) that the event venue was going to be pretty simple. But Harro and his crew were looking to put on a show and dropped us off on the most amazing venue I have ever competed on. There were spines, cliffs, exposure, jumps, shoots, everything you could imagine was somewhere on this venue. My expectations for this event weren't even scratched tho. I was under the impression that this was going to be one of the gnarliest Big Mountains events I had ever witnessed. Most of the athletes that I was looking forward to watching skied more conservatied lines to stay in the race for the over all title. In a competition point of view that sounds like a good game plan, in an entertaining point of view it was pretty unimpressive. But that is just my point of view, I'm sure there are others. Harro managed to squeeze in two runs for everyone and by the end of the day everyone had shit there pants at least once. After the skiing was done we got back in the helicopters for a hell of a ride back down to the base. Everyone (except me) had a beer and went to bed.
After two days of competition the third day started. The third event was a "Chinese Downhill." Now I grew up in Squaw Valley and I guess the people in Squaw have a completely different view than the rest of the world on what a "Chinese Downhill" really is. There were no pads, helmets, fire crackers, smoke bombs, ninja starts, knives, swords, guns, spires, spikes, boxing gloves, tight suits, or even shaped skis needed for this one. The event consisted of a 50 yard downhill to about a 90 yard bench to another down hill that ran about 300 yards to the finish. The most challenging part of the course was a little roller at the bottom. The only thing you needed to bring to this event was a pair of tuned skis, nordic poles and your dinner from the night before and you would have done well. For a "Chinese Downhill" I was pretty disappointed, but for a speed race it went pretty well.
Everyone (including the pilots) celebrated the event at the bottom of the race with VnC Cocktails and a wind lip session. Once the VnC was gone and everyone had worked themselves on the jump we packed up and headed out towards a surprise we had waiting for us. At first I thought the surprise was that all the pilots are shit-canned and we had to walk home, but to my surprise the pilots jumped in their helis and fired them up. I have driven in cars with drunk people but I have never in my life been in an aircraft with a drunk pilot. And my god! this was the best heli ride I have ever had. I thought that these guys were loose cannons before, but this brought it to a hole other level. We flew down to our surprise which was actually a jet boat ride back to the base. it was a fun full day with tons of surprises. All in all the World Heli Challenge was an amazing event. I want to thank Harro and his crew for putting in there time and effort and Tim Konrad(unofficialsquaw.com) for continuing to play his part as "God."
Check out clips on www.unofficialsquaw.com