Way to top all downhill
Local wins in heli challenge
Backcountry snowboarding with friends turned into a $10,000 pay check for Queenstown rider Jake Koia and his team after they won the World Heli Challenge at Mount Cook last week.
Koia and teammates Ryan Tiene and Mitchell Ayers, both of Australia, were chosen by an international panel of judges as delivering the best combination of technical riding and the strongest production in the challenge.
The trio went head-to-head in the competition, which involved making a short film about nine days skiing and snowboarding in extreme backcountry terrain on New Zealand’s highest mountain, against United States and Canadian skiers Essex Prescott and Dylan Siggers, and filmer Leo Zuckerman.
Koia said it was his second time in the competition and the second time he had taken on Mount Cook’s terrain.
The first time he rode the mountain was with top world snowboarder Travis Wright.
‘‘I struggled big time. It was cool to come back and be able to handle the mountain.’’
‘‘The terrain at Mount Cook is just the best feeling,’’ he said.
But average snow conditions meant the team had to get creative with rocks and bumps, he said.
‘‘We had a blast making our video and we’re honestly really proud and stoked its been received so well.’’
Tiene said the group filmed in a week what would usually be done over four months.
‘‘Our filmer Mitch absolutely killed it,’’ he said.
Event director Tony Harrington said both teams fully embraced the concept of the competition and took it to another level.
‘‘Not only was the skiing and boarding assertive and exciting to watch, the creativity of the teams and their filmers was simply inspirational,’’ he said. ◗ See the winning edit at worldhelichallenge.com.
Free falling: Queenstown legendary backcountry snowboarder Jake Koia in action during the World Heli Challenge at Mount Cook last week.