Obsidian is an epic new mixed Team Challenge event for the Winter Games NZ 2020, set across New Zealand’s Southern Alps. 21 of New Zealand’s best freeski and snowboard athletes pitted against each other in four progressive events over a ten-day weather window between the 10th and 20th of August 2020.
Each 9-person team will comprise a mix of 7 elite snow sport athletes and 2 world class videographers. Male and female, ski and snowboard, freeride and park athletes and will be led by a Team Captain.
From Conception to reality the Obsidian has been an athlete focused, sport and content driven event with Olympic medalists, Freeride World Tour winners and film orientated athletes at the top of their game involved throughout the journey.
There will be a thrilling Freeride event in a breath-taking backcountry venue, two progressive Park events (Park Jam and Big Air) to showcase the immense style and skill of New Zealand ski and snowboard talent. These three events will be scored by an expert panel in each of the sporting disciplines, while the fourth will be very different. The Mountain Shred challenge will see all three teams sent to separate ski resorts for a one-day shred where they will build and session a line that can feature natural, man-made or enhanced natural features. The teams will be scored on their style, creativity and sport from their video edit of the day. This is where their embedded videographers will shine.
Finally, to really spice up the sporting action, we have incorporated the Obsidian ‘joker’ card. Each team will receive a Joker card and they will have to nominate which event they play it on. This card gives the team double points for the event they play their Joker card on, so it is up to the team to determine which event they think will be their strongest.
The embedded videographers also have the challenge of capturing the action as it unfolds on and off the mountain from their team’s perspective. This will allow them to bring their creative talents to the fore with the Videographers overall competition, which will form part of the overall event scoring. The final Obsidian Team edits will be premiered in Wanaka and Queenstown at the end of August as community events supporting the local snow industry and our region.
Winter Games NZ CEO Marty Toomey believes the Obsidian will be the envy of the snow sports world and will provide snowsports content that fans have been starved of since the northern hemisphere ski season was brought to an abrupt halt due to COVID-19. Not only will the content be impressive but he is confident it will inspire young New Zealanders to get out and enjoy the freedom and exhilaration of skiing and snowboarding.
Team Captain, six times X-Games medalist and Olympian Jossi Wells is stoked to be involved. “The opportunity we have been dealt during this worldwide pandemic lends itself to really showcasing New Zealand’s diverse talent pool in the field of snowsports. From X-Games, World Cup, Olympic & Freeride World tour podium places to backcountry film stars, Kiwi’s have been pushing the boundaries in all areas of snowsports for a number of years & to have the opportunity to bring all these athletes together for a 10-day event is what I see as a celebration of all that has been accomplished across the board. For me personally I am excited to participate as I feel like an event encompassing these diverse disciplines is suited to my skiing. NZ has come such a long way in the area of snowsports and I’m very much looking forward to celebrating that with all the amazing athletes involved.”
Each 7 person team will comprise 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 will be elite level; FWT winners, Olympic medallists and film orientated athletes at the top of their game.
The four events are:
Freeride– Classic freeride contest format based on the FWT 4* events held during WGNZ. Terrain will be heli accessed and the terrain will be 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 is found.
Big Air – The same jam format as the Park Jam on one of the Cardrona Park Jumps.
Mountain Shred– Each team will shred up a local resort, enhancing natural terrain to session and exploring breathtaking sidecountry. They will then create an edit of this day which will be judged.
Each team will be assigned their own film crews to capture the action and lifestyle as it unfolds both on and off the mountain.
This year’s aim is to promote our kiwi athletes and spectacular venues whilst building an exciting athlete focused event, full of style and creativity. This is 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 (e.g. NZL vs Europe vs North America).
Details on our scoring will be posted soon.
Winter Games New Zealand is the Southern Hemisphere’s biggest snow sports event. Traditionally it welcomes 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. This year that can’t happen, so rather than let the event lapse Winter Games NZ will run Obsidian.
New Zealand’s most successful winter athlete, Jossi Wells has been making waves in the freeskiing world since the tender age of nine. The Olympian and six-time X Games medallist has been winning on the world stage for more than a decade.
Disciplines: Slopestyle and Big Air.
Career highlights: Six-time X Games medallist; Sochi 2014 Olympic Games 4th in halfpipe; 2010 AFP World Champion; X Games 2016 gold medalist in slopestyle.
Janina is one of the most versatile female freeskiers in the world, competing in big mountain as well as halfpipe. She is a two-time Winter Olympian, representing NZ at the 2014 Games in Sochi, Russia and the 2018 Games in PyoengChang, South Korea.
Home town: Wanaka
Career highlights: Second overall on the 2015 FIS Freeski World Cup tour; 2014 & 2018 Winter Olympian; seven time winner of the NZ Freeski Open, two-time Canadian Freeski Champion and two-time World Heli Challenge Champion.
Born and raised on the South Island of New Zealand, Sam Smoothy graduated from the tussock-filled slopes of Wanaka’s Treble Cone to topping Freeride World Tour podiums across the globe. On a self-described sabbatical from the competition scene, the rascally Kiwi has spent the last few seasons filming with the TGR crew in Alaska and focusing on his own personal film projects.
Home town: Wanaka