LAKE WANAKA, New Zealand (May 20, 2009) - The freeski component of this year’s Winter Games NZ is shaping up to be the most prestigious event of its kind ever seen in New Zealand. Along with an invite list of the biggest names in the sport, Winter Games NZ will also act as a qualifier for ESPN Winter X Games as part of the AFP Tour with two of the key men behind the scenes ensuring a world-class event- Josh Loubek and Chris Schuster, both from the USA.


Loubek is freeski head judge of the Winter X Games and will take the same role at Winter Games NZ. He helped create and implement the current judging format for the Association of Freeski Professionals (AFP) and has an impressive judging resume that includes the Dew Tour, US Open, European Open and the Nippon Open.


“New Zealand athletes have really made a big impact on the world of skiing, such as the Wells brothers,” he said. “Winter Games NZ will provide a perfect venue for them to compete. This, along with other big name athletes from around the world, will create a huge event certain to capture a receptive audience. I look forward to a high level competition as we lead into the Winter Olympics in Whistler the following season. Additionally, New Zealand is absolutely one of my favourite places in the world.  So I’m also excited to visit and enjoy the friendly people and beautiful scenery.”


Chris Schuster is president of the AFP and has been instrumental in the development and management of ESPN Winter X Games for over ten years. He will oversee the slopestyle at The Remarkables and big air at Coronet Peak for both freeski and snowboard at Winter Games NZ.


“I am looking forward to the first WGNZ in anticipation of a successful, high quality event,” he said. “It is events like these around the world that are the platforms the athletes use to continue to push the sport of skiing to new levels.”


Winter Games CEO, Arthur Klap, said having the buy-in from such well-respected industry professionals was not only a positive reflection of Winter Games NZ but also a huge asset to the first-time event.


“Chris and Josh bring with them a wealth of experience from all over the world and are key players in the massive success that is the Winter X Games,” he said. “To have them as part of Winter Games NZ is a privilege and the expertise they will be able to impart to our local organisers will be invaluable. Their involvement also sends a message to the competitors that they an be assured of a world-class event.”


Winter Games NZ is among the events that re used to select athletes for ESPN Winter X Games in free ski halfpipe, slopestyle and big air. For further information, visit