The winners of New Zealand's World Heli Challenge were announced Thursday at an awards ceremony in Wanaka, New Zealand, a week after the competition came to a close.
In the ski division, Sam Smoothy and Janina Kuzma took the top honors. Among the snowboarders, Benny Bright and Abby Lockhart won the men's and women's fields, respectively. Judges selected the overall winners based on video of their performance over the two days of competition, the extreme day and the freestyle day.
Three of the four top athletes are from New Zealand (Bright is from Australia). "I'm pleased with the win because these days I spend more time coaching and managing athletes than in competition," said Bright, whose sister is pro snowboarder Torah Bright. "This proves to the athletes that I'm working with that I actually know what I'm doing."
"I had the best time ever," said Smoothy. "I'm a bit blown away by the win as I was being conservative having just come off an injury. I feel privileged to be named this year's champion amongst all the amazing skiers who were out there."
Added women's ski winner Kuzma: "I've been a part of the World Heli Challenge since its resurrection three years ago and this year was the best ever," said Kuzma. "This was the most competitive field I've skied against at a World Heli Challenge and it was great to land on top."