Winter Games NZ 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. In 2020 that couldn’t happen, so rather than let the event lapse Winter Games NZ ran Obsidian.
Obsidian was 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 five challenges over a ten-day weather window between the 10th and 20th of August 2020.
Each 9-person team comprised a mix of 7 elite snow sport athletes and 2 world class videographers. Male and female, ski and snowboard, freeride and park athletes and was 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 was 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 were scored by an expert panel in each of the sporting disciplines, while the fourth and fifth challenges will be very different.
The Mountain Shred challenge saw all three teams sent to separate ski resorts for a one-day shred where they built and sessioned a line that can feature natural, man-made or enhanced natural features. The teams were scored on their style, creativity and sport from their video edit of the day.
The fifth challenge was the videographers edit and this was where each teams embedded videographers shone. The videographers captured the action as it unfolded on and off the mountain from their team’s perspective. This allowed them to bring their creative talents to the fore with the Videographers overall competition, which formed part of the overall event scoring.
Finally, to really spice up the sporting action, we have incorporated the Obsidian ‘joker’ card. Each team received a Joker card and they had to nominate which of the four ‘sporting’ events they play it on. This card gave 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 final Obsidian Team edits were premiered in Wanaka at the end of August to the athletes and supporting the local snow industry and our region. But you can watch them on our YouTube channel here.
Our Five Challenge Format!
Each 7 person team will comprise of a mix of male and female, ski and snowboard, freeride and park athletes who will be led by a Team Captain. All athletes are elite level; FWT winners, Olympic medallists and film orientated athletes at the top of their game.
Each team will also have a dedicated videography team joining them through out the ten days, capturing content and creating two edits which contribute to the overall score of their team. Our videographers are locally based and world-class.
Each team of athletes and videographers will complete five challenges across the 10 day weather window between the 10th and 20th of August 2020. The following five challenges, equally weighted at 20% each of the final score, determine which team is our 2020 Obsidian Champion. The five challenges are:
Freeride – A classic freeride competition format and judging based on the North Face Frontier event usually held during Winter Games NZ. The venue will be heli accessed and the terrain is epic!
Park Jam – A jam format in a custom built rail garden at Cardrona in lower Stag Lane with judges eliminating the lowest placed athletes until a winner is found.
Big Air – A jam format on the last jump in the Cardrona’s Big Bucks park. Athletes will compete against each other until one athlete is left victorious.
Mountain Shred – Each team will be allocated a different local resort, where they will shred the mountain and session a line of their choice involving natural and enhanced features on the mountain. Their videographers will create an edit from which they will be judged, 50% by the sports panel on the riding and execution and 50% by the media panel on the creativity and quality of the edit. The Mountain Shred venues are:
• Treble Cone
• Coronet Peak
• The Remarkables
Videography Edit – Each team’s dedicated videography team will create an overall edit showcasing their team at Obsidian. The edit must be filmed within the 10 day weather window and all riding action must be captured on the day of the particular event. This edit will be 100% judged by the Media Panel.
Follow us on our Social channels for highlights of each day, the latest results and when our Big Air and Park Jam will be held at Cardrona so you can come on up and get amongst the action!
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.
Team captain Jossi Wells will be leading his team, made up of:
Craig Murray | Freeride World Tour freeski athlete with multiple FWT podiums and he took the win at the FWT20 in Fieberbrunn this season.
Nico Porteous | Freeski Halfpipe World Cup athlete, 2018 Olympic Winter Games bronze medallist and X Games Aspen bronze medallist.
Margaux Hackett | Freeski Big Air and Slopestyle World Cup athlete.
Claire McGregor | Freeride World Tour snowboard athlete, recently qualified for the 2021 tour off the back of her incredible results during the 2020 season.
Carlos Garcia Knight | Snowboard Big Air and Slopestyle athlete and 2018 Winter Olympian finishing 5th in slopestyle.
Will Jackways | Former professional snowboarder, local snowboarding legend with plenty of snowboard films to his name.
Wanaka based production company Two Bearded Men will be joining Team Wells as their embedded videographers. Founded by Tim Pierce and Toby Crawford, Two Bearded Men is built on their passion for people and storytelling and they are now one of the Southern Hemispheres thriving production companies.
They will be joined by videographers Hunter Paull and Chris Maunsell. Team Wells has drawn Coronet Peak as their Mountain Shred Challenge venue.
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.
Team captain Janina Kuzma will be leading her team, made up of:
Finn Bilous | Freeski Big Air and Slopestyle World Cup athlete, 2018 Winter Olympian and X Games Aspen competitor.
Blake Marshall | Freeride World Tour freeski athlete.
Jackson Wells | Freeski Big Air and Slopestyle World Cup athlete and 2018 Winter Olympian.
Zoi Sadowski-Synnott | Snowboard Big Air and Slopestyle World Cup athlete, 2018 Olympic Winter Games bronze medallist and X Games gold and silver medallist
Mitchell Davern | 2019 Snowboard World Rookie Tour Slopestyle Winner
JJ Rayward | Former snowboard slopestyle athlete, now a regular feature in some of the most creative snowboard films.
Wanaka based production house Jase Hancox Films will be joining Team Kuzma as their embedded videography team. Jase Hancox is a freelance director and director of photography; his work has taken him around the globe showcasing some of the biggest names in the adventure sports arena. His ability to operate at the highest capacity in the most hostile environments means that he is consistently being sought after by global brands. Joining Jase is Toby Wilson and Josh Morgan.
Team Kuzma has drawn The Remarkables as their Mountain Shred Challenge venue.
Sam Smoothy grew up skiing in Wanaka, NZ and has become one of the biggest names in the freeride world, competing on the Freeride World Tour from 2011 – 2016. His winning run at the Andorra FWT stop in 2015 went viral and landed him a place filming with the biggest ski movie production house Teton Gravity Research filming in locations across the globe. He has also produced a number of his own films with local filmer/director Jason Hancox including the Banff Mountain Mountain Film Festival finalist SKYPIERCER. An experienced operator in the backcountry Sam has pushed more into the ski mountaineering realm recently, climbing and skiing some of NZ’s biggest peaks such as Mt Aspiring and Aoraki/Mt Cook.
Home town: Wanaka
Career highlights: Competed on the Freeride World Tour from 2011 to 2016 taking three wins, many podiums and 2nd overall in 2014.
Team captain Sam Smoothy will be leading his team, made up of:
Hank Bilous | Freeride World Tour Freeski athlete with multiple FWT podiums and an all-round talented local skier.
Beau-James Wells | Freeski Halfpipe World Cup athlete, 2014 and 2018 Winter Olympian and X Games Aspen competitor.
Jess Hotter | Freeride World Tour Freeski athlete, took the win in Kicking Horse this year.
Christy Prior | Former Snowboard Big Air and Slopestyle World Cup athlete, multiple X Games appearances and 2014 Winter Olympian.
Tiarn Collins | Snowboard Big Air and Slopestyle athlete, multiple World Cup Podiums and he was selected for the 2018 Winter Olympics Team.
Ronan Thompson | Freeride World Qualifier snowboard athlete.
Queenstown based end-to-end production company Diaries Downunder will be joining Team Smoothy as their embedded videographers. Nick Hyne and Heath Patterson specialise in adventure and action sports and have an extensive and unique knowledge of the Queenstown and Wanaka areas, having worked in this environment over the past ten years.
Team Smoothy has drawn Treble Cone as their Mountain Shred Challenge Venue.