Wanaka prepares for Heli Challenge
Tue, 31 Jul 2012 6:49p.m.
By David Di Somma
Skiers and snowboarders from here and overseas are gathering in Wanaka, ahead of the annual Heli Challenge which officially starts tomorrow.
Included is a Kiwi skier who won last year's event and then made quite a splash on the international scene.
Since his win last year Sam Smoothy has been living his dream.
“I used Heli Challenge as a testing ground for a more aggressive style of skiing and I took that to Europe and did quite well on the world tour,” says Smoothy.
He had a breakthrough victory on the tour in France and at one stage the 26-year-old from Cromwell was even ranked number one, before a crash at Verbier in the Swiss Alps dropped him to number four.
This year he is back to defend the title he won in Wanaka last year and he is one of the star attractions of the 30 or so starters.
Having been held on and off since the mid 1990s, the Heli Challenge pits skiers and snowboarders from here and overseas in extreme and freestyle competitions.
Tomorrow is the official start day though a decent patch of weather isn't expected until next week.
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