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LATEST NEWS: Winter Games NZ Confirmed for 2022, committed to 2023, 2024 & 2025!

Winter Games NZ collaborates with The Ladylike Movement freeski and snowboard events
 

Winter Games NZ is proud to announce their collaboration with the ‘Girl, Get After It’ event series, an all-female park day for freestyle skiers and snowboarders, hosted by The Ladylike Movement. 
 
The Ladylike Movement is an organisation who have set out with a mission to challenge the societal norms placed on women to be poised and collected by breaking stereotypes.  Girl, Get After It – Te Ika-a-Māui (one of their events) is set to be held at Tūroa on Saturday the 20th of August. 
 
The purpose of Girl, Get After It is to inspire women (ages 8+) to challenge themselves in a supportive and encouraging environment, increase confidence and create a sense of community up the mountain. 
 
Laura Wotton, founder of The Ladylike Movement and current World Cup Freeski athlete, explains “I have always wanted to create spaces that I needed and would have loved to see when I was first starting out in freeskiing. My overall dream is to see an increase in female participation in both recreational and competitive freeskiing and snowboarding.” 
 
The Girl, Get After It events are coached by former and current Kiwi competitive freeskiers and snowboarders, and in 2022 includes Beijing 2022 Winter Olympian Margaux Hackett. 
 
“The reason it’s important for me to include former and current competitive snow sports athletes as our coaches is so I can give these women the opportunity to be and lead the change we want to see in our own industry,” said Wotton. 
 
Marty Toomey, Winter Games NZ CEO, says, “ It was an easy decision for Winter Games NZ to collaborate with Girl, Get After It and The Ladylike Movement to support them to deliver events around New Zealand. Programmes that inspire young women towards a career in competitive snow sports are worth supporting in my mind, we look forward to following the progress of the attendees as they take steps along that journey.”
 
Wotton excitedly explained, “From a logistics perspective the support from Winter Games NZ provides us with the opportunity to host more events across Aotearoa. Winter Games NZ is well known in the snow sports world, so it means a lot to me to receive recognition and support from them. With this partnership I look forward to the moves we can make within the industry going forward.”

Winter Games NZ is back!

Winter Games NZ is thrilled to announce the Southern Hemisphere’s biggest snow sports event is back in 2022. The Games will include 16 events across alpine, freeride and freestyle (park and pipe) disciplines between the 27th August and 11th September. 
 
Cardrona Alpine Resort, Coronet Peak and The Remarkables will host the best of New Zealand’s snow sports athletes, as well as welcoming back international competitors for the first time since 2019. 

“We are excited to bring back the Winter Games NZ this year and look forward to providing a platform that allows kiwi athletes to benchmark themselves against their international competition across many disciplines and events. We are committed to a four-year plan, which will see Winter Games NZ growing year on year towards the Milano Cortina 2026 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.
 
“We love showcasing the Southern Lakes to the world and want to encourage as many people as possible to watch our events live on mountain. For those who can’t be there in person we will be producing amazing content for our digital and television audiences,” commented Marty Toomey, CEO, Winter Games NZ. 
 
“With so many events to choose from across our world class venues, the 2022 Winter Games NZ will be quite the celebration.”
 
The events will kick off with Alpine Ski racing at Coronet Peak on Saturday the 27th August. There will be two FIS Super G Continental Cup races on day one and will be followed by two FIS Continental Cup Giant Slalom races on the 28th and 29th August. 

Freeski and Snowboard Halfpipe and Slopestyle action follows at Cardrona Alpine Resort from the 1st to the 4th of September. These FIS Continental Cups will draw a big crowd with kiwi stars dropping in alongside their team mates and other international competitors. 
 
The North Face Frontier is back between Saturday 3rd and Thursday 8th September, at The Remarkables. The event will be hosted within a 6-day weather window with the two best snow and weather days identified for the action. This kiwi freeride institution features 2* and 4* Freeride World Tour Qualifier events and will attract many names you now see on the Freeride World Tour. The 2* event will be held in Shadow Basin, while the 4* event will be hosted in the Alta Chutes with Lake Alta providing an epic viewing platform. 
 
The 16-day snow sports spectacle will be rounded off with Big Air and Park Jam events at Cardrona Alpine Resort. The format for these events is being co-designed with athletes to give them their best chance to demonstrate their incredible talent.

Team Wells crowned overall Obsidian Champions

Lake Wanaka, Friday 28 August: Team Wells was crowned victorious at the Obsidian 2020 on Friday 28 August after a tight race which came down to the wire. After five challenges Team Wells snatched the win by only 20 points ahead of their rivals Team Kuzma and Team Smoothy, who were tied on 500 points each on the overall leaderboard.

The Obsidian rules state if there is a tie with the overall results then the countback will be taken from the Obsidian Overall Edit results. Team Kuzma and Jase Hancox Film took the top spot on the Edit Podium with their 7-minute epic movie featuring The Remarkables and Mother Nature herself. This art-house film won the hearts of the media panel with its expansive cinematography and crafted narrative. This win meant Team Kuzma seized second place overall in the Obsidian, narrowly beating an extremely competitive Team Smoothy.

Throughout the ten-day weather window and the five sports and videography challenges, the 3 teams have been evenly matched.

“I was so excited to be part of this event to ski all the different disciplines and then to get hurt. The whole uncomfortable theme rang true,” said an animated Jossi Wells.

The Freeski legend had to lead his team from the sidelines for the event when he broke his wrist on the first challenge of the Big Air. “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. Then we jump into the first day of competition and I get smoked. And it is ironic as the day before I am talking about pushing beyond the comfort zone and then I brake my wrist and suffer the consequences of what it is to do this sport.”

“This format is really new and to bring all these disciplines to one event I don’t think has been done before. 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.”

Local world-class videographers Two Bearded Men joined Team Wells documenting their journey. Their final film named “Comfortable” was a stylish edit delving into the mindset of these talented sportsmen and women

Overall second-placed Team Kuzma were delighted with their performance, “I was stoked to pick Jase Hancox film and Remarkables as my Mountain Shred venue. It was awesome being able to showcase my team and the mountain with such awesome videographers,” said Janina Kuzma. “Winter Games NZ Obsidian was truly a world-class event and we all loved being part of it. Seeing New Zealand showcasing such amazing talent across all of these disciplines was what it was all about.”

Team Smoothy led overall from the second challenge through to the very final event, showing exactly how close and competitive the 21 athletes and 9 videographers were. Team Smoothy’s Overall Edit created by the talented Queenstown Production House Diaries Downunder played up on Smoothy’s funny side and tongue in cheek attitude, with his teammates shining on the screen. “I am super happy with the team and we had so much fun and pushed our riding. It was just an amazing experience,” said an excited Smoothy.

Winning Videographer Jase Hancox summed up the Obsidian from a content perspective, “It is never one person who makes a film. There is such an army of people and that is true across the board for all teams.”

The Most Valuable Athletes (MVAs) from the Obsidian were also celebrated with Tiarn Collins coming out on top for the Men’s Snowboard category. He won at the Park Jam and came second at the Big Air and Freeride events showing consistency across the board despite never competing in a Freeride competition before. Zoi Sadowski-Synnott dominated the women’s field with a win in the Park Jam, second at the Freeride and third at the Big Air, again never having competed in freeride event and taking it on with confidence. Finn Bilous was crowned top men’s skier showing his multitalented style and creativity across all the disciplines with a top spot on the Park Jam, second-placed Freeride run and third at the Big Air.

For the full story of the event, amazing content from all the challenges, plus behind the scenes panel discussions, we are producing a four-part series being aired on Sky Sports NZ in September. It will be available globally with the schedule and broadcasters being announced on the Winter Games NZ website.

Media Judges
Tex Teixeira – Chief Content Officer – SKY NZ
Jeremy Wells – TVNZ Seven Sharp Presenter and Radio Host
Bridget Legnavsky – General Manager – Cardrona Alpine Resort
Chris Dunn – Mons Royale

For the full story of the event, amazing content from all the challenges, plus behind the scenes panel discussions, Winter Games NZ are producing a four-part series being aired on Sky Sports NZ in September. It will be available globally with the schedule and broadcasters being announced on the Winter Games NZ website.

These epic 7-minute final edits are available on the Winter Games NZ YouTube channel www.youtube.com/WintergamesNZ and on the Winter Games NZ Facebook
www.facebook.com/WinterGamesNZ

Team Wells takes the win in the Winter Games NZ Obsidian Mountain Shred Challenge

Coronet Peak, The Remarkables and Treble Cone were the hosts for the fourth Obsidian challenge, the Mountain Shred. Each of our three teams visited a different ski resort where they built and sessioned various lines around the mountain. The embedded videographers filmed the action and created a three-minute edit from which they were judged 80% by the sports panel on the athletes tricks and execution and 20% by the media panel on the cinematography of the edit. Team Wells with Two Bearded Men came out on top with 100 points, followed by Team Smoothy with videographers Diaries Downunder in second (80pts) and Team Kuzma and Jase Hancox Film in third (60pts). 

Team Wells and their embedded videographers Two Bearded Men drew Coronet Peak as their venue for the Mountain Shred. The sports panel commented that the edit included a strong use of venue and a variety of Coronet Peak’s terrain was covered. The athletes displayed strong linking of features with solid linked tricks and the tricks which had a high difficulty and big amplitude. There was strong performance across all the categories (Freeski Men, Snowboard Men and the Women). The media panel also commended on their use of follow and lead camera angles. 

Team Smoothy, accompanied by videographers Diaries Downunder drew Treble Cone as their Mountain Shred venue. With Team Captain Sam Smoothy an ambassador for Treble Cone and team member Jess Hotter working as a ski patroller there, they certainly knew the mountain well. The sports panel mentioned how they liked the use of the features at the summit.  The media panel thought the videographers used incredible angles and their edit stood out because of the use of different shot sizes, light and lenses. 

Team Kuzma and Jase Hancox Film visited the Remarkables and had Blake Marshall on their team who works at the resort. The sports panel liked the long high-speed lines that the athletes were skiing and the media panel liked the high-speed footage from the FPV drone, which was unique for a ski featurette and gave it a computer game feel, which was original. 

The fifth and final challenge contributing to the overall winner of the Edgar Challenge Trophy for Winter Games NZ Obsidian is the overall Obsidian Edit where each videography team will put together a 7 – 8 minutes edit of their teams time and experience at Obsidian. This final edit will be judged 90% on its cinematography, editing, soundtrack, story and overall vibe and 10% on the sport within the edit. It will be all to play for with the teams all neck and neck as we go into the fifth challenge.

These edits will be judged in the coming days and the results will be announced at our prizegiving on Friday the 28th of August. The prizegiving has, unfortunately, had to be changed to a closed event due to COVID-19 Level 2 procedures but the watch out for the results and Obsidian overall edits on Friday evening via our social media platforms. 

Sadowski-Synnott, Collins and Bilous are crowned Park Jam champions

Lake Wanaka, Monday 17 August: Cardrona Alpine Resort was the host for the final sports challenge at the Obsidian 2020, the Park Jam. The athletes threw down some amazing tricks to wow the spectators on a bluebird day. Team Kuzma came out on top for the event (100pts) followed by Team Smoothy (80pts) and Team Wells (60pts). Although this team performance though was not enough to topple Team Smoothy off the top of the overall leaderboard.

“The athletes and organisers wanted to keep the Park Jam true to an old school jam format, which meant the judging criteria was around the vibe of an athlete’s run,” explained Head Judge, Tori Beattie. “And it came out strong in the athletes, it was great to see.”

The men’s ski was the biggest category and at the end of the semi-finals it was hard for the judges to pick only three to go through. It ended up with Finn Bilous grabbing first, Jackson Wells in second and Beau-James Wells rounding out in third. Bilous emerged on top for the judges due to him hitting every single feature on the course, every run had a different line through, everything was landed and grabbed perfectly. He showed his variety and technical strength to come out on top. Jackson Wells took the vibe criteria seriously and probably got the most laps out of anyone. Running uphill at one point and showed his incredible skateboarding background and creativity. Beau-James Wells in third was technically strong and his pipe skills really paid off on the quarter-pipe. Close contenders were Nico Porteous and Ben Barclay they were nipping at the third spot.

“It was full on, even the qualifying rounds were pretty intense, then it just turned up a notch in the finals,” explained Bilous.

“I had a few tricks in mind, I saw the course set up yesterday and did a few of those tricks that I wanted to do. I didn’t get the results I wanted earlier in the week so I put everything I could into this comp so I’m stoked it worked out”

It was a similar story for the men’s snowboarder category with the judges wanting to take four athletes through to the finals but could only take three. Tiarn Collins, JJ Rayward and Ronan Thompson made it through with big sends and technical rail tricks. The quarter pipe became a key feature on the course and landing tricks on it became important as the competition went through. Tiarn Collins rose to the top with some technical tricks and really impressed the judges. JJ Rayward displayed his creativity and jumped into second, with Freeride athlete Ronan Thompson showing he was not just a big mountain athlete.

“It was fun today, I was able to put down a few things so I am so happy,” said a stoked Collines.

“It was sick with the set up, you could see all the different types of snowboarding – it wasn’t just a rail jam, it was more of a park which is sick, I loved it.”

Olympic bronze medallist Zoi Sadowski-Synnott was stand out with her technical prowess on the rails and was above all others out there. Christy Prior’s experience in the park also shone through and she was definitely in her comfort zone. Young Ruby Andrews managed to pip Team Captain Janina Kuzma to the third spot with a couple of technical rail tricks, where Kuzma showed her pipe skills.

“I’m pretty stoked, but the whole week has just been so fun, everyone has just been so happy to be here so good vibes all around,” said Sadowski-Synnott.

“Hopefully it was a successful day [for Team Kuzma], I think we came in first, we’ll have to see how the Mountain Shred and the videographers event plays out.”

The hour finals saw all the athletes push it up a level, which was incredible after the busy few days they have had on the snow. The skiers were pulling out double corks over the middle of the course and the snowboarders were pulling out the tricks in the quarter pipe. The rankings didn’t change but the tricks got harder and harder. To round off the day, Beattie, said “If there was a vibe award it would go to Jackson Wells, who hiked so much and came up with some crazy creative lines and laughed the whole way.”

Team Smoothy jumps into first place overall while Kuzma, Murray and Thompson showed their Freeride experience & pedigree

Lake Wanaka, Saturday 15 August: Team Smoothy shone in the Obsidian Freeride competition on the WTF face in the Minaret Range near Lake Wanaka. They jumped from 3rd place overall on the leaderboard into first, with a clever play of their Joker card. This card doubled their 100 points score for winning the event and if that wasn’t enough they managed a podium sweep of first and second place in the Men’s Snowboard category giving them another 20 points. This left them with 280 points overall, with Team Kuzma close behind with 220 and Team Wells dropping to 3rd with 180.

The heli-access venue tested the 21 athletes, with Janina Kuzma showing her experience in the women’s category. The 2014 Halfpipe veteran from the Sochi Olympics and the Freeride World Tour veteran was strong and smooth on the face in difficult conditions. Zoi Sadowski-Synnott claimed second place in her first top level freeride contest but you wouldn’t have known it watching her. She took one of the harder lines on one of the more exposed sections of the face and managed to pull off a very clean line. On a day when it was all about consistency, Jess Hotter decided to turn up the heat. The Freeride World Tour Rookie of the Year was unfortunately unable to stay on her feet but her difficult line gained her third place on the podium.

“Really stoked to be back in the yellow bib today as it’s been nearly two years,’ said an excited Kuzma. “Especially doing a freeride event! I’m just super happy to pick a line skiable to the conditions today. It was awesome to see all the girls putting great lines down as well and just stoked to take out the win.”

In the Men’s snowboard category one of the most stylish snowboarders New Zealand has ever produced Will Jackways may well be well into his 30s but his experience paid off in the men’s snowboarding, as he was able to thread a beautiful line together to take third place. In second place Tiarn Collins had a day of firsts. It was his first time in a helicopter, in a freeride competition and he was the first person to drop into the venue. But a strong and steady run from Collins the park athlete gave him the spot on the podium, which an incredible feat in his first freeride event. Ronan Thompson was first in the European and Oceania Junior Freeride World Tour in 2019 and he was one of the few snowboarders to attack the face, he was loose in places but stayed on his feet for a very fast and technical line, a deserved victory for the young athlete.

“Conditions were pretty variable,” said Thompson. “It was hard pack to soft snow. Hard to stay on your feet. It was a really fun day out in the sun and it is my first ever helicopter ride, so I am super stoked and awesome I managed to win!”

There were so many lines to choose from within the Men’s Ski category. In fourth place, Nico Porteous the 2018 Olympian put down a very technical run to show he is so much more than a park athlete. Sam Smoothy, team captain and one of the best film riders came in third place with an incredibly technical line. In the top two spots there were two very different styles. All eyes before the competition being on Hank Bilous, the older of the two Bilous brothers, unfortunately an ankle injury kept him out of the contest. Instead it was his younger brother Finn who turned up and treated this freeride face like a snow park. A 360 into the top of a very technical line and then a flat 360 on the exit meant that Finn Bilous booked himself into second place. In first place, Craig Murray is unquestionably one of the best freeride skiers in the world and he didn’t disappoint at Obsidian. His run was almost fall line from the top to the bottom of the face, which was incredibly exposed and difficult terrain. There was no question in the judge’s minds who would win the Freeride Obsidian men’s ski.

Murray was stoked to win, “The comp was super fun up here today, with a full kiwi crew full of amazing talent in ski and snowboard. It was so cool to see different disciplined athletes competing here. I’m super happy to stay on my feet and come away with the win!”

Sunday 16 August sees the teams attack their third challenge, the Mountain Shred Challenge. This challenge is about videography as well as our sport. Each team has been allocated a different local resort, where they are shredding the mountain and sessioning 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 80% by the sports panel on the athlete’s tricks and execution and 20% by the media panel on the team’s creativity and quality of the edit. ⁠

Team Kuzma is up The Remarkables with their videographers Jase Hancox⁠ Film.

Team Wells is up Coronet Peak with their videographers Two Bearded Men.⁠

Team Smoothy is up Treble Cone their videographers Diaries Down Under⁠.

Obsidian Big Air – Margaux Hackett, Carlos Garcia Knight and Nico Porteous Land on Top.

The decision was made on Tuesday night in conjunction with Cardrona Alpine Resort to continue with the Obsidian Big Air yesterday. The Winter Games NZ team moved into their Level 2 contingency plan and operating procedures, to ensure they provided a safe venue and event for all members of the Obsidian. Cardrona closed their ski fields to the public as they plan their response to the Level 2 environment and prepare their facilities. At the closed venue the athletes acknowledged how appreciative they were to be allowed to still compete and perform on a world stage.

Team Jossi took out the top spot in each of the three categories today, with Nico Porteous, Margaux Hackett and Carlos Garcia Knight’s strong performances. This would normally have meant they were at the top of the overall standings for the day, but Team Kuzma strategically played their Joker card on the Big Air event. This card allows the team to gain double points on the day they use it. This pushed them infront with 160 points, to Team Wells’ 100 points and Team Smoothy in third with 60 points.

Nico Porteous, bronze medalist at PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games, was crowned overall Men’s Freeski Big Air Champion on a bluebird day. “My day was off the charts. I haven’t had a day like this for so long. It was unbelievable,” said Porteous. “I ended up coming out and doing tricks I have only done twice before in my life. Beyond stoked to be standing on that top podium.” Winning with a Left double 16 safety, right double 16 mute combo.

Jackson Wells, 2018 Olympian and the youngest of the Wells brothers, showed consistency across all his tricks and came in second place. Winter Games NZ 2018 World Cup Big Air bronze medallist, Finn Bilous, rounded off the Men’s Freeski podium in third place with a huge performance. He stomped a right double cork 1440 with a safety grab which was very stylish and went for the triple cork but was not able to land either attempt.

Margaux Hackett, World Cup Big Air athlete, took first place and blew the women’s field apart with her right cork 900 with a tail grab and her switch right misty 900. “It was really cool battling it out with Zoi (Sadowski-Synnott).” The jam format pitted Hackett against the snowboard women and freeski women in one category.

Jess Hotter (Freeride World Tour podium athlete) boosted her way into second place with some huge straight airs and solid grabs. Zoi Sadowski-Synnott was here to win and went all out attempting a backside double 1080 but unfortunately just couldn’t find her feet today.

The Men’s snowboard category was world class, with Carlos Garcia Knight taking the win. Garcia Knight landed both a switch backside 1260 with an indy grab and a backside 1260 and he also styled out with a huge, floaty backside rodeo. “I tried to do it bit different today. I tried to do the tricks that makes snowboarding look cool and what I like about snowboarding.”

Tiarn Collins took out second and had the stand out trick of the day, a cab double cork 1440, but with our jam format judging criteria, one awesome trick is not enough to take the top spot. Up and coming Mitchell Davern was right on Collins and Garcia Knight’s tail landing the same two tricks as Garcia Knight, they were unfortunately not as clean.

The Winter Games NZ Obsidian is being run in a weather window between the 10 – 20 August, with the next predicted event being the Freeride on Saturday 15 August.

Big Air Confirmed!

The Big Air will be the first of the five Winter Games NZ 2020 challenges and will be held up at Cardrona Alpine Resort on Wednesday 12th August.

Watch our park athletes bringing their A game to the third jump in Cardrona’s Big Bucks park. Bryon Wells and James “Woodsy” Woods will be on the mic bringing you an epic vibe. Athletes will go toe to toe in a knockout format until one athlete is left victorious and crowned the Obsidian Big Air Champion.

We will have live scoring available here so you can follow along, or if you’re in Wanaka or Queenstown get on up here to watch New Zealand best athletes throwing down! 

The event will kick off at 10.30am and there will be a chill zone at the top of the course so meet your hero there!

We are assessing the weather and snow conditions on a daily basis and making decisions to ensure we give the athletes, videographers and venues the best opportunity to bring their A game and create epic content that we can share with you!

Make sure you follow along on our Social Media channels for the most up to date information.

OBSIDIAN

The Obsidian is 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 four progressive events over a ten-day weather window between the 10th and 20th of August 2020.

Each 9-person team will comprise a mix of 7 elite snow sport athletes and 2 world class videographers. Male and female, ski and snowboard, freeride and park athletes and will 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 will be 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 will be scored by an expert panel in each of the sporting disciplines, while the fourth will be very different. The Mountain Shred challenge will see all three teams sent to separate ski resorts for a one-day shred where they will build and session a line that can feature natural, man-made or enhanced natural features. The teams will be scored on their style, creativity and sport from their video edit of the day. This is where their embedded videographers will shine.

Finally, to really spice up the sporting action, we have incorporated the Obsidian ‘joker’ card. Each team will receive a Joker card and they will have to nominate which event they play it on. This card gives 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 embedded videographers also have the challenge of capturing the action as it unfolds on and off the mountain from their team’s perspective. This will allow them to bring their creative talents to the fore with the Videographers overall competition, which will form part of the overall event scoring. The final Obsidian Team edits will be premiered in Wanaka and Queenstown at the end of August as community events supporting the local snow industry and our region.

Winter Games NZ CEO Marty Toomey believes the Obsidian will be the envy of the snow sports world and will provide snowsports content that fans have been starved of since the northern hemisphere ski season was brought to an abrupt halt due to COVID-19. Not only will the content be impressive but he is confident it will inspire young New Zealanders to get out and enjoy the freedom and exhilaration of skiing and snowboarding.

Team Captain, six times X-Games medalist and Olympian Jossi Wells is stoked to be involved. “The opportunity we have been dealt during this worldwide pandemic lends itself to really showcasing New Zealand’s diverse talent pool in the field of snowsports. From X-Games, World Cup, Olympic & Freeride World tour podium places to backcountry film stars, Kiwi’s have been pushing the boundaries in all areas of snowsports for a number of years & to have the opportunity to bring all these athletes together for a 10-day event is what I see as a celebration of all that has been accomplished across the board. For me personally I am excited to participate as I feel like an event encompassing these diverse disciplines is suited to my skiing. NZ has come such a long way in the area of snowsports and I’m very much looking forward to celebrating that with all the amazing athletes involved.”

Thank you from the Team!

On behalf of the entire Winter Games NZ team I would like to thank everyone who helped us celebrate 10 years of excellence in 2019. It has been inspiring and humbling – from the amazing achievements of world class athletes to the 200 plus volunteers who are the heart of our event, the team is extremely proud of Winter Games NZ and its accomplishments.

First and foremost I would like to thank the athletes, officials and venues as without them we could not host a world class sporting event. The athletes brought their exceptional talent, competitive drive and awesome personalities and delivered thrilling competitions. We couldn’t have asked for more!

Our generous sponsors were fundamental to the success of this year’s event and we thank them for their support and the work they put in to ensure the 2019 Winter Games NZ were successful. A heartfelt thank you to our naming sponsor Queenstown Resort College who backed the Games to ensure they were delivered to a world class standard. Thank you also to our presenting sponsors Cardrona Alpine Resort (Park and Pipe Series), Forsyth Barr (Cross Country, Curling), NZ Ski (Alpine Series), The North Face (Frontier) and Queenstown Resort College (Ice Hockey). This year we also celebrated two exciting new partnerships with Sky Sport NZ showcasing our incredible winter sports to New Zealand  and Skyline Luge supporting our volunteer programme.

The funding and support we received from the New Zealand Government (New Zealand Major Events, Sport NZ), local government (QLDC), the New Zealand Olympic Committee, a multitude of local and national Charitable, Community and Gaming Trusts, local tourism organisations Destination Queenstown and Lake Wanaka Tourism, our support sponsors, suppliers and Patrons allowed us to deliver another truly world class event.

To our venue partners, you are integral in the delivery of a successful Games. You open your facilities to a huge influx of competitors, allow our team to become part of your family and you consistently provide a premium experience and world class venues for the athletes to compete in and on.

To our incredible volunteers; you are the backbone of the Winter Games NZ and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for generously giving us your time. You welcomed everyone to our beautiful part of the world and showed them true Kiwi hospitality. You had an endless supply of smiles, regardless of the time of the day you may have woken up. Volunteers are the life blood of New Zealand sport and we couldn’t be more grateful. 

They say it takes a village, and without the efforts of everyone involved, the QRC Winter Games NZ fuelled by Forsyth Barr wouldn’t have been the success it was this year. We will continue to work tirelessly to ensure that the Winter Games NZ becomes a ‘must-do’ event on the global winter sports calendar. 

Finally, I would like to say a massive thank you to Sir Eion Edgar who is stepping down as Chair of the Winter Games NZ Charitable Trust. Sir Eion not only established Winter Games NZ, but he has tirelessly given his time, energy and support since the events inception. Sir Eion’s drive and determination have allowed us to get to 2019 and to celebrate 10 years of excellence. Your legacy will live on for many years to come.  

It has been an honour to lead the Winter Games NZ team in our tenth year of excellence and I am incredibly proud of our staff who have gone above and beyond to once again create an event we can be proud of – 26 snow and ice sports events at 6 venues over 17 action packed days.

Kia kaha!

Marty Toomey
Chief Executive, Winter Games NZ

Australia’s final fight back

The 2019 Trans-Tasman Challenge presented by Queenstown Resort College, concluded tonight between the New Zealand Ice Blacks and the Australia Mighty Roos. After an exciting weekend of hard-hitting, high-flying ice hockey at Queenstown Ice Arena, it’s New Zealand who come away Challenge victors. This is the first time New Zealand has ever won back-to-back hockey titles over Australia, so despite losing the final game, the kiwi squad was all smiles on their way out of the venue.

Despite losing Tests One and Two Australia’s Mighty Roos still one game of hockey left to play and were determined not to go home with their tails between their legs.

Matt Schneider scored early for New Zealand, a quick shot that surprised Australian goaltender Dayne Davis to put the Ice Blacks up early. However from that point on it was all Mighty Roos. Kieran Webster tied things up in short order and then Zach Boyle scored on the power play. Eventual Aussie man of the match Wahebe Darge fed Kai Miettenen for the third Roos goal and at the P1 horn the score was 3-1.

In the second period, Matt Schneider once again attempted to shoulder the comeback effort for the Ice Blacks but it wasn’t to be. His second goal of the night was to be New Zealand’s last. Darge scored again for the Aussies to put them up 4-2 on a gorgeous mini breakaway. The Australian side kept the pressure coming, peppering both goaltender Rick Parry and Csaba Kercso Magos with shots. New Zealand switched goaltenders at the halfway mark and managed to hold Australia to 4-2 by the end of the second frame.

In the third, Australia opened the floodgates. They scored five goals in twenty minutes, padding out that 4-2 lead to an eventual 9-2 victory to prove they weren’t going to go down without a fight. Darge completed his hat trick with a little tap-in goal to open up the scoring, and then Jonathan Bremner knuckled one over Magos’ glove to put the Roos up 6-2. Vadim Virjassov, a standout player from last year’s Trans-Tasman Challenge, potted the Roos seventh goal, just managing to trickle one past Magos. Then Hayden Dawes added his own to the scoresheet, tallying a goal from great distance through traffic. Finally, AIHL institution Bert Malloy scored the final goal of the night through his own teammates’ legs, scoring a resounding ninth goal. The Aussies were playing for pride and a 9-2 victory is nothing to sneeze at.

The Challenge culminates with a 2-1 series win to New Zealand. New Zealand series MVP was awarded to Matt Schneider and Australia series MVP was awarded to Wahebe Darge. Overall series MVP also went to Matt Schneider, who scored an astounding six goals this tournament.

The Trans-Tasman Challenge presented by QRC was the final event in the 2019 QRC Winter Games NZ, fuelled by Forsyth Barr, where the games celebrated 10 years of sporting excellence here in New Zealand.

Winter Games NZ Snow Action Wraps Up with Spectacular FIS Freeski World Cup Halfpipe Finale

The QRC Winter Games NZ, fuelled by Forsyth Barr snow sports action wrapped up with a spectacular showdown in the Cardrona Superpipe today with the FIS Freeski World Cup Halfpipe Finals. Kexin Zhang of China and Birk Irving of the USA emerged as the winners.

After Mother Nature called the shots yesterday and the men’s qualifying rounds were called off due to poor visibility, it was different story this morning and qualifying took place at 8am under blue skies. 10 men from a 30-strong field then progressed to the final rounds later in the day.

With the likes of two-time reigning world champion Aaron Blunck (USA), 2018/19 halfpipe crystal globe winnerSimon D’Artois (CAN) and NZ’s own Miguel Porteous (Wanaka) in the mix it was always going to be a heavyweight battle.

Simon D’Artois left no doubt about his goals for the day, scoring a 92.60 on his first run to earn the top qualifying spot. Miguel Porteous also secured his ticket to finals on his first attempt, with an 86.80 which initially had him in second place after run one before he dropped back in to third following a stomped second run from Birk Irving (USA).

Team USA came out firing with Jaxin Hoerter, Taylor Seaton, Aaron Blunck and Lyman Currier all making the top 10 and up against a strong Canadian contingent also including Brendan Mackay and Sam McKeown for the finals.

Finals competition got underway at 11am and there was no taking easy even as the first FIS Freeski Halfpipe World Cup of the 2019/20 season. 

“I’m just going to try and push it and push it and push it,” said Eileen Gu of China after landing an 88.80 on run one and initially holding the lead. She would need to do just that with her compatriot Kexin Zhang landing back to back switch 900s on her second run and taking the lead with a score of 91.00.

Eileen upped her second run, increasing her score to an 89.00 but couldn’t quite catch Kexin. Nevertheless, she was delighted by a new career best result. 

“It feels incredible,” said Eileen. “This is my halfpipe world cup podium, it’s also my first halfpipe world cup ever. This is way more than I could ever have expected and I’m super happy with how I performed today.”

Russia’s Valeriya Demidova was on strong form all day, landing three solid runs for a top score of 87.80 on run three, putting her in to third place overall. 

The men’s finals competition stepped up to a whole other level from the morning’s qualifying event. In the words of the USA’s Jaxin Hoerter “it’s a lot bigger than qualifying, the boys are getting sendy.”

Birk Irving set the bar with a score of 95.00 and the lead on run one but never got the chance to relax as the rest of the field threw down every run, and he had to keep pushing hard to be assured of the win. Birk’s third run was indeed his best, the judges rewarding for progressive tricks, including two double flips, huge amplitude and good execution and upping his score to 95.60. 

“I’m just really excited to land that run, those are tricks I’ve wanted to do for such a long time,” said Birk. “It’s insane to put that run down today, I’m beyond words. The pipe was perfect, everything just lined up and ended up working in my favour, I couldn’t be happier.”

In the end Birk couldn’t be toppled, although Noah Bowman (CAN) gave the scoreboard a good nudge, laying down perfect back to back switch doubles and scoring 93.40 on his last run of three to finish in second.  

Aaron Blunck (USA) also saved his best for last scoring 92.80 on run three for third place on the World Cup podium.

NZ’s Miguel Porteous took a heavy crash on his first run and consequently did not start his second or third runs but thankfully avoided major injury.

Top runs

Women

1: Kexin Zhang – right 720 mute, switch left 900, switch right 900, switch left 360, right 540 mute

2: Eileen Gu – right 540 tail grab, left 540 japan, right 720 safety, switch left 7 japan, left alley-oop mute

3: Valeriya Demidova – right flair safety left flair safety right 720 safety, switch right alley oop 540, switch left alley oop 360 japan, left 720 mute grab

Men

  1. Birk Irving. Left double 1440 safety, switch right 720 mute, left 900 tail grab, right 900 tail grab, left double flat 720 high safety
  2. Noah Bowman Right 1080 tail grab, switch left 540 mute, switch left double 900 safety, switch left souble 1080 safety.
  3. Aaron Blunck. Switch left double 900 japna, switch right double 1080 japan, left 900 tailgrab, right double 1260 tail grab.