Locals clean up at World Heli Challenge

Heli Challenge

Heli, heli, heli.         PHOTO: Miles Holden for World Heli Challenge.

Wanaka’s Will Jackways and Abby Lockhart both convincingly claimed World Heli Challenge titles this year, taking the top spots on the podium for snowboarding and proving they know Wanaka’s backcountry like the back of their hands.

Sam Smoothy, also flying the local flag, reclaimed his title with first place in the skiing section following up on his solid third placing last year.

It was a very close competition for the men with Finnish snowboarder Antti Autti in second place just a fraction behind Jackways in points. “What won it for Will J was his faultless execution, big airs and smooth flow,” said head snowboard judge Mike Hygemann.  “Antti had speed and strong elements but Will J pipped him on the day.”  USA’s Colin Boyd rounded out the men’s snowboard podium.

All of the judges agreed the trick of the day was a huge Cab 5 landed solidly by Will Jackways.  The most aggressive rider of the day, Yuta Kiyohara pulled off a big method but just missed the podium finishing his day in fourth place.
In men’s skiing it was Taisuke Kusunoki (Japan) and Essex Prescott (CAN) battling for second and third with Kusunoki narrowly taking the lead for his aggressive and fluid runs.  He also pulled off the trick of the day, a big left 360 corked and stomped his landing.

Third-time winner in women’s snowboard Abby Lockhart (NZL) came out strongly against her fellow competitors with runs peppered with tricks including Cab 180s and front 360s.  Second place went to the vivacious Jessy Brown (CAN) for a solid performance and third to Rachel “Ratty” Sheidow enjoying yet another place in what is her fifth World Heli Challenge outing.

In a break out performance former alpine ski racer, Taylor Rapley from Queenstown landed her first free ride podium winning the women’s ski title with fellow New Zealander Briar Peters taking second place pulling out a solid run in spite of a knee injury.

A newly named “Shane McConkey Award” to reward passion and progression in free riding was presented to Fraser McDougall and Jessy Brown.  The award formally known as the “X” factor award recognises the male and female athlete who may not necessarily deliver the cleanest scores and perfect results in the competition but who inspire and excite with their riding and their attitude. “This award is about identifying those who blaze a new path, try something different, show fluidity, a sense of fun and keep their sport fresh and progressive.  Fraser and Jessy have both delivered this in spades this past two weeks” said event founder and director Tony Harrington.

“Fraser was the biggest charger on the day,” said head ski judge Geoff Small. “He impressed the judges but he blew his double backflip twice, crashing and stopping in the course, which pushed him back to seventh position.”

Fraser and Jessy win a week at Points North Heli Adventures in Cordova Alaska where they will experience big mountains and terrain where Shane McConkey blazed many lines.

This year's WHC winners take a bow.     PHOTO: activexposure.com

This year’s WHC winners take a bow.                  PHOTO: activexposure.com

A highlight of the iON Showcase Awards Night is the Canon Shootout which saw a sold out Lake Wanaka Centre as the crowd relished in short documentaries and photos captured by a field of five photographers and five filmmakers throughout the two week window of the World Heli Challenge.

“What makes this event unique and special is the compelling content it generates,” said Harrington.  “We aren’t just pitting the athletes against each other on the competition days, we are also challenging top action photographers and filmers to capture stunning moments and create stories that are shared around the world profiling these talented athletes and this beautiful area around Lake Wanaka.”

The Canon Shootout Winners this year are:


Best Freestyle Day image – MICKEY ROSS
Best Carlton Dry image – MILES HOLDEN
Lake Wanaka Lifestyle – MICKEY ROSS
Best Exide image – MILES HOLDEN
Best Treble Cone Image – NEIL KERR
The Canon Award for Best Photo Overall – MICKEY ROSS
Best SYRP Genie time lapse – MICKEY ROSS


Best Freestyle Day segment – RILEY BATHURST
Best Carlton Dry integration – SAM LYNCH
Best use of SYRP Genie for time lapse or sequence – ANTONY HANSEN
The Canon Award for the Best Documentary – TOMOHIRO FUJII
Best iON POV 30 second clip – LACHLAN HUMPHREYS
The five-minute World Heli Challenge documentary and all Canon Shootout submissions will be posted to to the World Heli Challenge website – www.worldhelichallenge.com – on Friday morning for everyone to enjoy.


1. Abby Lockhart (NZL)
2. Jessy Brown (CAN)
3. Rachel ‘Ratty’ Sheidow (AUS)

1. Will Jackways (NZL)
2. Antti Autti (FIN)
3. Colin Boyd (USA)

1. Taylor Rapley (NZL)
2. Briar Peters (NZL)

1. Sam Smoothy (NZL)
2. Taisuke Kusunoki (JPN)
3. Essex Prescott (CAN)



Sam Lynch: “Cheers, Mr Carlton dry.”
Guy giving prize (Matt): “Actually, I’m Mr Canon!”

“This is exhilaration captured on camera .”

“Strikes that crazy nerve!” –  Kirsty Swan

“Who wants to see some more snow porn?” – Harro

“Pow turns are like surfing and sex with an espresso coffee.” – Lachlan Humphries

“Hey Mal.”

“Yeah nice one bro … Nice one.” – Someone in the crowd

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