With New Zealand’s international borders still closed the Winter Games NZ team have opted for a small but spectacular event this year for the ninth edition of the Games. Comprising the North Face Frontier 2* and 4* at The Remarkables Ski Area, between the 29th August and 2nd September and a Big Air showcase at Cardrona Alpine Resort on the weekend of 4th and 5th of September.
“We are excited to have three world class events lined up for the 2021 season,” said Winter Games NZ CEO, Marty Toomey. “We know that the New Zealand athletes will be amped to have Freeride World Tour qualifiers on home snow and a world class Big Air event to help them prepare for their northern hemisphere seasons.”
The North Face Frontier 2* and 4* events are both Freeride World Qualifier Tour events and will welcome competitors from across Aotearoa and Australia. The 2* event precedes the 4* event with the events held on the best weather and snow conditions days during the window of 29th August – 2nd September. As qualifying events for the Freeride World Tour, the North Face Frontier events are an important stepping stone for Freeride athletes aiming to get onto the Freeride World Tour.
The 2* event is held in Shadow Basin, while the 4* event is hosted in the Alta Chutes with an epic base camp set up below. The Winter Games NZ team, North Face and The Remarkables will be hosting at the base camp so come along to join the fun of freeride.
Freeride skiing and snowboarding is all about the skills, style and fluidity an athlete can bring to a freeride (ungroomed, off-piste) face.
You can keep up to date with when the competitions will be held and how you can be part of the action via The North Face Frontier Facebook Page and this Winter Games NZ website.
Cardrona Alpine Resort will host the Big Air showcase on the first weekend of September in the world-renowned Big Bucks Park. The Big Air showcase will see Freeskiers and Snowboarders hit Jump 3 multiple times to perform their best tricks for the judges and spectators alike. The competition format is being co-designed with athletes to ensure they can showcase their incredible talent.
New Zealand snowboarding star, Olympic Bronze medalist in Big Air and 2021 FIS Slopestyle World Champion, Zoi Sadowski-Synnott is stoked to see the event on the calendar.
The Big Air event will draw the crowds up to watch the kiwi snow sports stars light up the jump and the Winter Games NZ team will not only be hosting the event, but the party atmosphere will make it a day to remember.
Winter Games NZ:
Winter Games New Zealand is the Southern Hemisphere’s biggest snow sports event. Since its inception in 2009 it has traditionally welcomed the world’s best skiers and snowboarders to compete in the opening of the FIS Park and Pipe World Cup season and The North Face Frontier, a Freeride World Qualifying Tour 4* & 2* event. Alongside these core snow events has been Alpine Ski Racing at Coronet Peak, world class Mixed Doubles Curling in Naseby at the International Ice Rink, Cross Country Skiing at Snow Farm and Trans-Tasman Ice Hockey rivalry in Queenstown at the Ice Arena! So many events over the years and so many happy competitors spending an amazing time in the Queenstown Lakes and Central Otago region.
As borders closed and international travel quite rightly came to a halt in 2020, the team at Winter Games NZ decided rather than let the event lapse and lose momentum, they would find new ways of celebrating kiwis style and steeze on the snow. They recreated their event and Obsidian was born.
Obsidian was a content driven sports event that pitted three teams of New Zealand’s best freeski and snowboard athletes, embedded with world class videographers, against each other in five challenges. Three were pure sporting competitions giving the athletes time to shine on the snow and show their immense skills. And two were all about the content! Producing a short highlight feature at their chosen ski field to showcase the amazing New Zealand scenery and community. And the piste-du-resistance was the Obsidian feature film, which saw some beautifully crafted and inspired movies, premiere at the end of the event. Obsidian took place over a ten-day weather window between the 10thand 20thof August 2020.
Event Format in detail
Each 7 person team comprised a mix of male and female, ski and snowboard, freeride and park athletes and will be led by a Team Captain; an experienced and strong personality. All athletes were elite level; FWT winners, Olympic medallists and film orientated athletes at the top of their game.
The five challenges were:
Freeride– Classic freeride contest format based on the FWT 4* events held during WGNZ. Terrain accessed via heli and the terrain was epic.
Park Jam – A jam session using the rail and jib features of Cardrona Park with judges eliminating the lowest placed athletes until a winner was found.
Big Air – The same jam format as the Park Jam on one of the Cardrona Park Jumps.
Mountain Shred – Each team shred up a local resort, enhancing natural terrain to session and exploring breathtaking sidecountry. They then created an edit of this day for the judges.
Obsidian Overall Edit – Each Obsidian team had a world-class production company embedded as part of their crew. This challenge was the opportunity for the videographers to shine. They brought their creative genius to the table and crafting an 8 minute edit of their team’s journey at the Obsidian. The edit must have been filmed within the 10-day weather window and all riding action must be captured on the day of the particular event. This edit was 100% judged by the Media Panel and we was premiered at the end of the event.
The aim of 2020 was to promote our kiwi athletes and spectacular venues whilst building an exciting athlete focused event, full of style and creativity. This was not a one off event, the plan is to use this year’s event as a template to build on for 2021 and beyond, when international athletes will compete
Marty has an extensive and in-depth knowledge of elite winter sports. This is his fourth year as the CEO of Winter Games NZ, prior to this role Marty was the CEO of Snow Sports NZ for six years. He is also the Chair of the Ski Areas Association of NZ (SAANZ), represents NZ on a number of FIS Committees and was recently appointed Chef de Mission of the 2022 Beijing Olympic Winter Games. His passion for winter sports and belief in his team drives him to tirelessly work to ensure Winter Games NZ is continuously evolving to be the best it can be.
Carly is a passionate sporting event professional and comes from an extremely successful 8 years at the Cardrona Alpine Resort. The events team at Cardrona regularly host World Cup events in Halfpipe, Big Air and Slopestyle with the world's best flocking. All the way through to the Junior Alpine Nationals and bespoke events as the Jossi Wells invitational. This wealth of event knowledge makes her a valuable asset in our team and it also helps she loves the outdoors.
Communications and Marketing Manager
Sophie has a passion for sports, media and the mountains. As a past professional sportswoman herself, she focuses on telling the athletes stories and has over 20 years experience in international sports events. This will be her fourth year with the Games and she is proud to be part of this elite and uniquely kiwi Winter Sports event. She manages Broadcast, Comms, Marketing and the TV & Media teams.
Operations and Delivery Manager
Over 15 years ago now Gemma was thrown in the deep end in with sports event management and absolutely loved it. She enjoys working behind the scenes of major sporting events and the challenges it brings. She has worn a few different hats within the Games team and is now managing the venues and awards team.
Volunteers really are the heart, soul and engine of an event. Jo’s role as the Volunteer Manager allows her to connect with this core crew and to create a culture that they want to be part of. As an avid snow dweller and ski slider with extensive event experience and community connectedness, this is her ideal job.
Georgina has an extensive and varied marketing background and a passion for creating experiences that are memorable and consistent across every aspect of an organisation’s activities. Georgina has recently joined the Winter Games NZ team, however her involvement in the snow sports industry spans over 18 years. Her industry experience includes; ski instructing, frontline guest experience, marketing, and events.
Communications & Marketing Coordinator
Britt is a talented Olympic Halfpipe skier who has turned her amazing skills on the snow into a new career in Media and Comms. She started with the Games in 2018 as an intern and has worked her way up to a permanent part of the gang! She has also competed in the Games and competitions around the globe, giving her awesome insight and strong relationships with the top snow sports athletes. She is also the Snow Sports NZ Communications Manager, leading the team's media output on the way to the Olympics!