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June, 2020

A major new snowsports event will replace the 2020 Winter Games this

Itll be New Zealands biggest snowsports event this year and will
become a fixture of the normal programme in future.
You get served lemons, you might as well make lemonade, Winter
Games New Zealand boss Marty Toomey said when announcing details of
The Obsidian replacement event recently. Its a four-event
competition, the likes of which hasnt been done anywhere globally
Unlike other major events up and down New Zealand, which pulled the
pin almost as soon as Covid-19 made its unwelcome entry to our shores,
Toomey says Winter Games New Zealands team decided to sit tight
think on their feet.
Wed done a bit of a strategic review at the end of last year which
looked at some of the events we had on the programme and [we] said,
actually, lets just shift ourselves a little bit.
Three co-ed teams, comprising seven of New Zealands most talented
skiers and snowboarders per team, will be led by captains Janina
Kuzma, Sam Smoothy and Jossi Wells across the four events  Freeride,
which will be heli-accessed, a Park Jam and Aerial Attack, both at
Cardrona Alpine Resort, and a backcountry Shred Session where each
team shreds up a local resort.
Wells says the event will showcase the countrys diverse talent
in snowsport,
including X-Games, World Cup, Olympic and Freeride World tour
competitors as well as back-country specialists.
To have the opportunity to bring all these athletes together & is
what I
see as a celebration of all that has been accomplished across the
Each teams going to have its own film crew, which will capture and
footage throughout the event  the edit of the Shred Session will be
judged, but the rest of the contents designed to go to broadcast
partner Sky TV, and to the likes of Destination Queenstown to help with
winter promotion, Toomey says.
Theres also an overall videography competition running alongside The
Obsidian  each team will create a five-to-eight-minute compilation of
their teams journey, and those will be premiered in Queenstown and
Wanaka at the end of August as a community event to support the local
snow industry.
Its all going down in the weather window between August 10
and 20.
Rather than saying its 10 days of full-on action, we want the best
possible days to get out and do the big backcountry events, it demands
perfect conditions, Toomey says.
So whenever the weather is right well pull the trigger on that
and the other events work around it.
The athletes, he says, are frothing about the new-look event and played
an integral part in its design.
Weve had this built for athletes by athletes & weve tested with
early on whether it was of interest before we even went back to [major
funder] NZ Major Events, so its definitely an athlete-focused event
which is, again, another really cool element of it.
They all had the end of the northern hemisphere snow season cut
short, and many of them were in really good form, so thats pretty
Then they thought, given the border closures, nothing would be able
to happen in NZ so, all of a sudden to be presented with something
thats really cool and competitive and will challenge them, theyre
Toomey says the quality of the entirely NZ competitor base  yet to be
fully revealed  is exceptional.
Weve got our future Olympians, weve got our Olympic medallists,
weve got our past Olympians, our Freeride World Tour athletes, those
just coming on the tour next year, those who have won on the tour
historically  you put them all together, youve got an incredible mix,
which in itself will be really interesting to see how the teams work.
But, he says, therell be a few tricks up the sleeve, including
cards which teams can play to double their points.
Its not going to stop.
Youre not going to know until the very end whats happened.
The Winter Games New Zealand teams keen to run it as an
international challenge as part of the 2021 traditional games where
teams from each country battle looking for the King and Queen of
Toomey says hes thrilled the events come together in such a short
 they only started seriously looking at it in March  and is grateful to
NZ Major Events, in particular, for backing it.
[It] has been a significant funding partner for the event for quite a
while, so a lot of this going forward is contingent on whether NZ Major
Events saw the benefit, given we werent going to be able to have the
international athletes.
They actually bought into it, so that was the critical piece that
allowed us to say, yes, we can make this work.
Theres no risk of the event not taking place.

Source: Mountain Scene


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