By: Downdays August 10, 2020

Normally at this time of year, while the Northern Hemisphere swelters in the summer heat, the Winter Games NZ would be firing up its gears. The biggest snow sports event on the south side of the planet, the Winter Games traditionally welcomes an international field of athletes for the start of the FIS World Cup slopestyle and halfpipe season, as well as several high-level freeride events.

Of course, the coronavirus pandemic has thrown a wrench into those gears. With New Zealand closed to international travel, most of the headline events of the Winter Games have been cancelled this year. But instead of calling it quits for, the organization has come up with an exciting alternative event called Obsidian, which kicks off this week.

What Is Obsidian?

Obsidian is a team event featuring some of New Zealand’s top ski and snowboard talent. Team captains Jossi Wells, Janina Kuzma and Sam Smoothy have hand-picked squads of seven athletes and two videographers each. Their task: to battle it out in five different challenges throughout the Southern Alps from the 10th until the 20th of August.

The challenges that the teams face include Freeride, Park Jam, Big Air, Mountain Shred and an overall edit category, combining on-hill judging with video-oriented formats. The result promises to be an throwdown for the ages, as these talented riders make the most of their home turf, free of any foreign interference.

Team Wells

NZ freeski patriarch Jossi Wells has selected a crack team for his Obsidian debut. Freeride World Tour star Craig Murray and halfpipe phenom Nico Porteous front the roster, backed up by Margaux Hackett, Claire McGregor, Carlos Garcia Knight and local snowboard legend Will Jackways. The camerawork will be handled by Wanaka-based Two Bearded Men, and the team has drawn Coronet Peak as their Mountain Shred venue.

Team Kuzma

Janina Kuzma's Obsidian squad features Finn Bilous, Freeride World Tour sender Blake Marshall, and style zealot Jackson Wells as well as Zoi Sadowski-Synnott, Mitchell Davern and JJ Rayward. Jase Hancox Films of Wanaka will take care of the filming, and the crew has drawn the Remarkables as their Mountain Shred venue.

Team Smoothy

Freeride legend Sam Smoothy has lined up freeride wildcard Hank Bilous, Beau-James Wells and FWT athlete Jess Hotter, as well as snowboarders Christy Prior, Tiarn Collins and Ronan Thompson. Queenstown-based Diaries Downunder are the filmers, and the team will session Treble Cone for the Mountain Shred challenge.

With the first challenges kicking off this week, more news from Obsidian is on its way. You can keep up with the event on the Winter Games NZ Instagram, and learn more at the contest website.