Team Ski & Snowboard Competition To Replace Winter Games NZ

A new snowsports event will be held in New Zealand this month in place of the Winter Games NZ, which usually attracts stars from across the globe.

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Called Obsidian, the revamped team format will feature 21 of New Zealand’s top freeskiers and snowboarders.

It takes place between 10th and 20th August.

The coronavirus pandemic has prevented international snowsports athletes from travelling to New Zealand this year, although ski resorts have been able to open there without restrictions for those already in the country.

The Winter Games NZ are normally the first stop of the International Ski Federation (FIS) Park and Pipe World Cup season.

Instead, Obsidian will have 3 teams, each made up of 7 elite athletes and 2 world-class videographers.

They will compete in 5 challenges, including freeride, park jam and big air.

The competitors include Olympic medallists and Freeride World Tour winners.

Skiers will take on snowboarders, women will taken on men and freeride athletes will test themselves against the stars of the park.

The contest has been scheduled over a 10-day weather window.

The team captains are New Zealand’s most famous snowsports athlete Jossi Wells;  one of the most versatile female freeskiers in the world, Janina Kuzma; and freeride pro Sam Smoothy.

The five challenges that make up the Obsidian are equally weighted at 20% each of the final score, to determine which team is our the 2020 Champion.


A classic freeride competition format with a heli-accessed mountain as the field of play. The judging format is based on the North Face Frontier event which is usually held during Winter Games NZ.

This year athletes from the FWT as well as Park and Pipe will be dropping in.

Park Jam

Cardrona Alpine Resort is building a custom rail garden and will welcome spectators. The judges will eliminate the lowest placed athletes in a round robin knockout format until the ultimate winner is crowned.

Big Air

This will take place at the third jump in Cardrona’s Big Bucks park. There will be a party with music and an MC.  Athletes will go toe-to-toe in a knockout format until one athlete is left as the winner.

Mountain Shred

This challenge is about the videography as well as the sport. Each team have been allocated a different local resort, where they will shred the mountain and choose a line of their choice involving natural and enhanced features on the mountain.

Their team videographers will create a video edit from the day, from which they will be judged 50% by the sports panel on the athletes’ tricks 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 and The Remarkables.

Obsidian Videography Edit

This challenge is the opportunity for the videographers to shine. They will film and produce an 8 minute edit of their team’s journey at the 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  judged by the Media Panel and will premiere at events in Wanaka (28th August) and Queenstown (29th August).

“With the world starved of sports content and positive stories, we want to showcase our amazing place in the world and the epic talent of New Zealand’s athletes,” the organisers say.

“We look forward to bringing you with us on that journey over the next month.”


Team Wells

Led by captain Jossi Wells and including:

  • Craig Murray – Freeride World Tour freeski athlete with multiple FWT podiums and winner of  FWT20 in Fieberbrunn last winter
  • 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 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 many 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 one of the Southern Hemisphere’s 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.

Team Kuzma

Led by captain Janina Kuzma and including:

  • 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 in 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 whose work has taken him around the world. Joining Jase are Toby Wilson and Josh Morgan.

Team Kuzma has drawn The Remarkables as their Mountain Shred Challenge venue.

Team Smoothy

Led by captain Sam Smoothy, and including:

  • Hank Bilous – Freeride World Tour Freeski athlete with multiple FWT podiums
  • 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, he won in Kicking Horse last winter
  • 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 with multiple World Cup podiums. 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, working in the Queenstown and Wanak areas for 10 years.

Team Smoothy has drawn Treble Cone as their Mountain Shred Challenge Venue.

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