The World Heli Challenge, the most exotic free ride and free ski event on the planet, debuts onto the international snow sports calendar this year.

Wanaka, New Zealand will play host to this legendary event, coming back on the scene due to the immense support from global media and already athletes are knocking down the door to claim their spot.

The World Heli Challenge consists of 3 days of helicopter-accessed competition, staged over a two-week period to allow for perfect weather conditions. Athletes vie for top honours in Extreme, Free Ride and Downhill events and the coveted overall World Heli Challenge Champion.

“The World Heli Challenge offers the athletes the best conditions of which to ultimately test their all round ability as a snow athlete. The unrivalled camaraderie among athletes, the two weeks of continuous adrenaline activities that the Wanaka region is renowned for and the incredible helicopter skills of Harvey Hutton and the Back Country Helicopter pilots make this event quite simply one of a kind” event organiser Tony Harrington exclaims.

The event has secured substantial global media distribution across the platforms of TV, print and online media.

The are only 50 spots available for athletes, divided into 18 male snowboarders, 18 male skiers, 7 female boarders and 7 female skiers.

Some of the named athletes to take part in the World Heli Challenge include:

Matthew Annetts: Jackson Hole: Overall title winner of the 2009 North Face Masters

Janina Kuzma: Ski winner of the Engadine Snow in St Moritz

Maria Kuzma: 3rd in the Engadine and 5th in the World Tour Finals in Verbier, Switzerland

Ralph Backstrom: 4th place overall North Face Masters World Tour

Rachel Sheidow: 2 x Dicks Ditch J.H. winner and former 3rd Alyeska Extremes, Alaska

Chris Davenport: “The World Heli Challenge is my favourite competition on earth. No other ski or snowboard event combines freestyle, extreme and psycho downhill skills like the Heli Challenge." 2 x World Champion and inaugural World Heli Challenge Champion.

Kiwi sensation Jossie Wells had his first taste of international acclaim when he was a fore runner of this event at just 9 years old. This time he’s back as an athlete along with his protégé brother Byron – two of the hottest ski kids in the world making big waves. Confirmed athletes also include Australia’s Chris Booth, Andrea Berchtold, Charlie Timmins and Boen Ferguson and daily growing list.