Lake Wanaka, Monday 17 August: Cardrona Alpine Resort was the host for the final sports challenge at the Obsidian 2020, the Park Jam. The athletes threw down some amazing tricks to wow the spectators on a bluebird day. Team Kuzma came out on top for the event (100pts) followed by Team Smoothy (80pts) and Team Wells (60pts). Although this team performance though was not enough to topple Team Smoothy off the top of the overall leaderboard.
“The athletes and organisers wanted to keep the Park Jam true to an old school jam format, which meant the judging criteria was around the vibe of an athlete’s run,” explained Head Judge, Tori Beattie. “And it came out strong in the athletes, it was great to see.”
The men’s ski was the biggest category and at the end of the semi-finals it was hard for the judges to pick only three to go through. It ended up with Finn Bilous grabbing first, Jackson Wells in second and Beau-James Wells rounding out in third. Bilous emerged on top for the judges due to him hitting every single feature on the course, every run had a different line through, everything was landed and grabbed perfectly. He showed his variety and technical strength to come out on top. Jackson Wells took the vibe criteria seriously and probably got the most laps out of anyone. Running uphill at one point and showed his incredible skateboarding background and creativity. Beau-James Wells in third was technically strong and his pipe skills really paid off on the quarter-pipe. Close contenders were Nico Porteous and Ben Barclay they were nipping at the third spot.
“It was full on, even the qualifying rounds were pretty intense, then it just turned up a notch in the finals,” explained Bilous.
“I had a few tricks in mind, I saw the course set up yesterday and did a few of those tricks that I wanted to do. I didn’t get the results I wanted earlier in the week so I put everything I could into this comp so I’m stoked it worked out”
It was a similar story for the men’s snowboarder category with the judges wanting to take four athletes through to the finals but could only take three. Tiarn Collins, JJ Rayward and Ronan Thompson made it through with big sends and technical rail tricks. The quarter pipe became a key feature on the course and landing tricks on it became important as the competition went through. Tiarn Collins rose to the top with some technical tricks and really impressed the judges. JJ Rayward displayed his creativity and jumped into second, with Freeride athlete Ronan Thompson showing he was not just a big mountain athlete.
“It was fun today, I was able to put down a few things so I am so happy,” said a stoked Collines.
“It was sick with the set up, you could see all the different types of snowboarding – it wasn’t just a rail jam, it was more of a park which is sick, I loved it.”
Olympic bronze medallist Zoi Sadowski-Synnott was stand out with her technical prowess on the rails and was above all others out there. Christy Prior’s experience in the park also shone through and she was definitely in her comfort zone. Young Ruby Andrews managed to pip Team Captain Janina Kuzma to the third spot with a couple of technical rail tricks, where Kuzma showed her pipe skills.
“I’m pretty stoked, but the whole week has just been so fun, everyone has just been so happy to be here so good vibes all around,” said Sadowski-Synnott.
“Hopefully it was a successful day [for Team Kuzma], I think we came in first, we’ll have to see how the Mountain Shred and the videographers event plays out.”
The hour finals saw all the athletes push it up a level, which was incredible after the busy few days they have had on the snow. The skiers were pulling out double corks over the middle of the course and the snowboarders were pulling out the tricks in the quarter pipe. The rankings didn’t change but the tricks got harder and harder. To round off the day, Beattie, said “If there was a vibe award it would go to Jackson Wells, who hiked so much and came up with some crazy creative lines and laughed the whole way.”