It’s hard not to conjure up images of Glen Plake, aeroplane turns and straight skis when discussing the Day 2 of the Heli Challenge- it’s Xtreme. Yet no such retro eye-candy was necessary to make the day a success.

However, it was a challenging day for both organisers and athletes with variable snow conditions and an ominous body of clouds, which slowly slinked towards the event face throughout the event.

After a 5:30am wake up those involved met at the paddock staging area near Makarora either half asleep or wired on coffee. Both states of delusion wore off quickly as the sun slowly rose over the distant mountains and lit up the clear sky and towering peaks.

The crew headed up nice an early in the helis, our pilots speedily sending us up to the bottom of the Extreme Day venue on Mt Albert. The face was a sight to behold, towering spines loaded with snow stuck out at all directions along the horizontal and diagonal ridges that ran down the face.

This eerie venue on Mt Albert was used last year for the Extreme Day but with a different history of snow this winter it appeared to be a totally different face- a new challenge with fresh new lines.

At first glance I was fairly dubious, sketchy point releases and debris littered landings and told of an unstable layer. Having said that, watching our experienced guides ski cut the face helped me to relinquish my initial fears of 10ft + slabs and helped me focus on finding a line.

Up, up, up and bam- we were up the top peering down what looked to be a steep powdery venue. Fortunately we were not fooled by the deceptively powdery appearance of the snow. Watching the judges and media drop in revealed heavy snow that could suck you under or as Neil Williman so astutely phrased it could “eat you up”.

And that it did, many young riders fell pray to death cookies, uphill zones and unexpected snow conditions. In spite of that, there were many bad ass lines STOMPED and ticked off during the day. Commendations go out to Markus Eder for hands down skiing the cleanest, styliest and gnarliest line of the day. Neil Willilam earned the title Stompy Mc Stomp for sending what I would refer to as ‘Ted’s cliff’, finishing it up with a mean bottom air and I stylish straight-line through the cookies. Will Jackaways followed on from yesterday with more stylish riding and some great technical turns through the gnar.

On the women’s side Jacqui Edgerly picked out a razor edge spine to begin her descent down Albert, not quite making the out run but she awed the crowd all the same! Abby Lockhart, Ratty Sheidow and Jett rode nice aesthetic lines filled with drops, pops and smooth turns. I got involved with some sluff down some chutes found ice, pow and crusty snow in one run and managed not to crash.

The event finished off just as the clouds rolled in, everyone got down safely and in one piece (quite an achievement for any big mountain event). A paddock party wrapped the day up, the sun was shining, the tunes were playing and the helis were buzzing past in jubliee.

That’s the end of the flying side of the 2012 World Heli Challenge, the ION Showcase takes place next Thursday 16th in Wanaka where all the prizes for both the Shootout and the WHC will take place.

Music Provided by Loop
Track; Claudes Theme, Artist; Yes King, Album: Rock This World
loop.co.nz

The Daily Dump Snow Report
Produced By Lachlan humphreys and Cassie De Colling

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