Snowboarding "Team Mates" Koia and Tiene win World Heli Challenge 2014

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Two World Heli Challenge teams spent nine days skiing and snowboarding in extreme backcountry terrain around Aoraki Mt Cook in New Zealand with nearly every moment of the past two weeks recorded and filmed for this unique freeriding shootout competition.

“Team Mates” were announced the victors bagging $10,000 first prize for their sumptuous short film which was a celebration of their week of “Big Adventures and Big Rewards”.

Pic: screenshot from Mitchell Ayers "A Mates Tale" edit.

NZ snowboarder Jake Koia and his mate Ryan Tiene (AUS) filmed by Mitchell Ayers (AUS) were chosen by an international panel of judges for delivering the best overall combination of technical riding by each of their athletes and the strongest production and editing to create the most entertaining story about their experience.

Jake was in Queenstown for the announcement and celebrations and phoned his “Team Mates” in Australia with the news, “ I can speak for Ryan and myself when I say its been a while since we’ve been on a podium. We had a blast making our video and we’re honestly really proud and stoked its been received so well. Thanks to everyone involved and thanks for making me love competing again ,” said Koia.

Ryan Tiene was delighted with the news, “The World Heli Challenge was a new experience for me. We filmed in just week what would usually be done 4 months! Our filmer Mitch absolutely killed it.

Event director Tony “Harro” Harrington explains, “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. These films give you goosebumps and make you want to get straight up into the mountains. It’s pure freeriding passion and it was agonizing for our judges to have to choose just one team to win.”

“I’m excited to post the edits online so audiences around the world can share in the magic and see what an amazing place it is here and what is possible when you put talented athletes, photographers and filmers in helicopters and fly them into an out-of-this-world alpine landscape.”

The two teams in the World Heli Challenge were “Team Vacation” from USA/Canada comprising skiers Essex Prescott and Dylan Siggers filmed by Leo Zuckerman, and “Team Mates” with Jake Koia (Queenstown NZ) and Australia’s Ryan Tiene, with Mitchell Ayers filming.

Both teams earned their way to the World Heli Challenge via an online “Call Up” and have had two weeks enjoying heli-accessed free riding around Mt Cook with Wilderness Heliski and an idyllic staging base staying at Lake Ohau Lodge and riding Ohau Snowfield during the event window.

Another NZ victory was had in the Canon Shootout, which was won by Mickey Ross from Wanaka. The Canon Shootout is a parallel competition to the teams’ event in which two professional photographers create a portfolio during the Challenge. Ross narrowly beat Australian Kit Rundle and secured a new Canon EOS 5D Mark III camera.

Skier Essex Prescott (USA) was overwhelmed to win the special recognition of the Shane McConkey Award and will be heading to Alaska next Northern winter to take up his 1 week heli-ski adventure prize at Points North Heli in Cordova. The award recognises the most progressive and passionate athlete in the competition and honours the energy and spirit of Shane McConkey – a free skier and free spirit who came to one of the very first World Heli Challenge’s in Wanaka back in the 90’s.

The winning edits and more from the event will be posted at

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