Team America’s takes convincing lead at Big Air Challenge


The Obsidian Big Air Challenge, the first challenge of the 2023 Obsidian Team Challenge, went down today on the world class 70-foot big air jump at Cardrona Alpine Resort.

With 31 of the best riders in the world, split across four teams, the level of riding was out of this world.

After a heated qualifying round, heading into the finals Team Americas and Team Europe had the advantage, as the only two teams to have multiple athletes in the same category qualify through to the finals.

The finals is where the format really differed from what is more commonly seen at Big Air events. The aim of today’s Big Air Challenge was to reward the athletes who are able to match the most technically difficult Big Air tricks with the silkiest and most stylish tricks.

Scored out of 200, the athlete’s score is a combination of their best technical trick and their best style trick. Each athlete was attributed a score based on their ranking, first place got one point down to fourth place who got four points. Anyone who didn’t make the finals was given five points. The team with the least points at the end of the day took the win.

Action from the the Obsidian Big Air 2023, at Cardrona, presented by Winter Games NZ

After today Team Americas is at the top of the leaderboard by a significant margin, finishing with just 23 points. This was thanks largely to the fact they had three out of four category wins, keeping their overall team score low.

Team Europe is sitting in second place with 29 points, Team Oceania in third place with 32 points and Team Asia is sitting in fourth place with 36 points.

Canadian freeskier Max Moffat, men’s ski category winner and member of Team Americas, said; “This team format doesn’t feel like a crazy contest, it just feels like you and your friends are sessioning a big jump. The Team format is sick, you rely on other people, not just yourself for a score, it’s cool and fun.”

Moffat’s teammate and women’s snowboard category winner Momo Maheux agreed, saying; “I really like the team aspect of the event, I’m really enjoying training with the skiers. I could hear my team cheering for me, we all love each other so it’s really nice.”

Action from the the Obsidian Big Air 2023, at Cardrona, presented by Winter Games NZ

The freeski judges explained how in the style round the athletes dialled back the technicality of their jumps and focussed on injecting style and steeze into their tricks and that it was awesome to be able to reward style in this competition.

The freeski judges also mentioned Elena Gaskell’s (Team Americas and female freeski category winner) switch bio 1080 mute grab as being up there with one of their favourite tricks of the day. They also gave Alex Hall (Team Americas) a shout out for throwing a huge cork 180 in the qualifying round.

The snowboard judges were particularly excited about Sven Thorgren’s style trick (men’s snowboard category winner and Team Europe member), who styled out a back rodeo 720 nose grab with a cool axis and sent it deep down the landing. They also loved Cool Wakushima’s (Team Oceania) double dipped 1260 rotation.

After a hugely successful first day, Obsidian will continue tomorrow (Sunday) with the Park Challenge at Cardrona Alpine Resort. Teams will face off in a custom built rail garden, with the judging encouraging creative and progressive riding.

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