Jossi Wells Invitational 2018 Recap
words: Harrison Gordon
video: Marcus Skin
photos: Mark Clinton
Despite what the Internet and television would have you believe, most snowboarding events are really lame. You show up excited, hopeful about the weather, hopeful about the course but in reality most times you are severely let down. Planning snowboarding is a really involved process and often the best riding happens unplanned, undocumented and certainly not at a pro skiers event in New Zealand. However, in this case we had perfect weather, perfect rails, jumps, minipipe, and everything went way better than anyone could have imagined.
You might be wondering why snowboarders were invited to participate in a pro skiers event and the answer is simple, Jossi Wells loves snowboarding. Jossi is a pro skier from Wanaka, New Zealand and he's one of those people who are good at everything. When I say everything, I mean everything that we (snowboarders) hold close to our hearts… snowboarding, skateboarding, chilling, partying… and yet, Jossi is one of the most humble and classy people as well. On and off the boards, he knows how to have a good time and that is exactly why this was a trip of a lifetime.JIB DAY
I arrive to Queenstown Airport and get picked up by Scott Blum and Jordan Brown. We get to Cardrona resort and its "sunny and sick", the staff is friendly, and we get our credentials. We slowly begin making our way to the course and start jibbing it up. Around noon things have really started heating up, Spencer Schubert and Sam Taxwood are getting very technical and stylish. 12: 45 ish pm- Yuki Kadono gaps the flat of the flat down rail and does a switch bs 3 to sw frontside 180 off….Sage Kotzenberg is doing switch frontside 180's to nosepress's and Sebbe De Buck is getting tech as well. Around 1:30 pm- everyone is going nuts, Sven Thorgren, Stale Sanbech, Carlos Garcia Knight, literally everyone is killing the JWI Rail setup, but Spencer is kinda crushing a bit harder to be honest. All the snowboarders and skiers are riding together the whole time and its pretty chaotic, everyone's excited and ripping At 3pm we call it quits and start out down the windy road back to Wakanda..I mean Wanaka*
In the evening everyone meets up at the lake where Jossi has arranged for a small yacht to pick us up and take us out to explore some less inhabited part of the lakeside. Everyone is here, all the skiers and snowboarders from all over the world, Olympians, Contest Killers, and some of the most creative riders alive, we drink free beers/ party, it is awesome. We get off the ship and have a catered meal on shore accompanied by free beers : ) Very good times and such a warm welcome to Wanaka, New Zealand.Jump Day
A bit windy in the AM but it mellowed out and turned into another sunny, slushy day this time a perfect 90 foot jump was on the menu. I'm pretty sure Spencer Whiting aka Gimbal God guinea pig'd it for everyone. Not many camera men/women can claim some shit like that, so that was cool. Everyone started warming it up and the dudes/ladies were riding very strong. On the style tip we had Nik Baden, Taxwood, Red, Yuki, Carlos-Garcia Knight. Baden did a front 10 off the toes no grab, which was indeed a highlight. Sven Thorgren was doing all the tricks, pretty cool to see him ride in person. Sebbe de Buck does not give a fuck, he went full psycho switch backside 9, backside rodeo 9, back 10 dub, fronty, and double fronty just for good measure. Zak Hale did his first back 10 "double-cork" of his life on the jump, choosing to grab melon (instead of mute) and looked extremely good while doing it. Taxwood was looking really good as well his front 9's were some of the best I've ever seen in person and did one of the sickest backside 180 no grabs since Ryan Lougee on that Hemsedal kicker back in the day. Red Gerard also handled the jump with ease, which should come as no surprise to anyone. The guy makes everything look good. Literally every single person who hit the jump that day killed it, but the true champ was none other than Sage Kotzenburg. He started it off charging and did not stop the entire time. Sage broke 2 boards in the process, but just borrowed other people's boards and kept slaughtering the jump. He clinched it in everyone's eyes final hit of the day with a never before seen/done/thought of trick, a backside 10 double cork nosegrab to tailgrab fake out to switch. You're gonna have to watch that one to call it what you want. It was quite a show to say the least. The mini Pipe:
Another perfect sunny day. Cardrona set up some jibs alongside the minipipe and Jossi set us all loose. Scott Blum was gracing the walls planting hands as well as boosting lofty airs. He has a really nice way of riding a halfpipe and makes it look easy, as does young Cody Warbs who silently picked the pipe apart all day. Sven was ripping, he went double crippler over the entire wallride feature which was absolutely nuts. Baden again casually ripped, linking huge airs with big mctwists as well as planting a few hands in there. Yutaro and Ryo were killing it; it was extremely fun to watch. Stale Sandbech can ride anything and blasted huge frontside airs grabbing method which you just don't see enough out there in the U ditch. Gabe Ferguson was casually killing it, as always, he had some of the best switch airs of the day. At the end of the day we had another Slopestyle Olympian take the W but this time it was the young, talented, and extremely well rounded Red Gerard. He can truly do it all folks, he had style, he had grace, and he just simply put together some of the best lines of the day.
All the events were rider judged. We had an amazing display of style, trickery, and general good times-ness from an extremely eclectic group of snowboarders. What I truly enjoyed about the Jossi Wells invitational was that it never felt like a contest. Each day was another session with some of the best snowboarders/skiers to ever come together in one place and everyday we had perfect weather. Thank you Jossi for having us all down to your hometown/country, we will all come back again next summer!