Team Wells has been crowned the overall champions at Obsidian, the Winter Games NZ’s new team-based contest format.
With COVID-19 restrictions cancelling the line-up of slopestyle, big air, halfpipe and freeride events that usually take place at Winter Games NZ at this time of year, Obsidian stepped up to take their place. Three teams of 100% New Zealand riders, headed by Janine Kuzma, Jossi Wells and Sam Smoothy, battled it out for primacy in a challenge that ranged from big-mountain freeride to Cardrona’s big air jump.
When the dust settled, it was Jossi Wells’ squad—Craig Murray, Nico Porteous, Margaux Hackett, Claire McGregor, Carlos Garcia Knight and Will Jackways, along with film squad Two Bearded Men—who absconded with the overall win after a leaderboard race that was tight until the end. Team Wells prevailed despite the loss of their captain, who broke his wrist during the big air contest—an unfortunate twist that played into the team’s chosen video theme.
“From the very beginning I worked super hard with Tim Pierce from Two Bearded Men on the concept of the overall video and we landed on the Comfortable theme,” Jossi said. “Then we jump into the first day of competition and I get smoked. It’s ironic, as the day before I am talking about pushing beyond the comfort zone, and then I break my wrist and suffer the consequences of what it is to do this sport.”
Occupying second place was Janina Kuzma’s team, whose videographers Toby Wilson and Jase Hancox gave the mountains a voice in their creative team edit, while team members Blake Marshall, Jackson Wells, Zoi Sadowski-Synott, Mitchell Davern, JJ Rayward and overall men’s top skier Finn Bilous.
Sliding into third was the squad around Sam Smoothy, who led the leaderboard until the final event before succumbing to their challengers. Team Smoothy’s edit opted for a more tongue-in-cheek approach, with the news of the week brought to you by hard-hitting reporting team SMOOTH News.
“This format is really new and to bring all these disciplines to one event I don’t think has been done before,” said Jossi Wells. “And to see the competitive nature come out in every one in their retrospective fields was really amazing. Even coming to the filmers. Seeing the filmers getting super competitive with each other is a whole new thing.”
If you’re reading this from New Zealand, you can look forward to a four-part series on Obsidian which will air on Sky Sports NZ in September. The broadcast will also be available globally, with the schedule and broadcasters to be announced on the Winter Games NZ website.