Wanaka athletes took centre stage yesterday morning on one of
New Zealand's best days in Winter Olympics history.
Only Annelise Coberger's silver medal 22 years ago eclipses
the four top 10 finishes the New Zealand team has achieved in
a single day in Sochi.
Just hours after Palmerston North speed skater Shane Dobbin's
seventh place in the men's 10,000m, Wanaka siblings Jossi and
Beau-James Wells finished fourth and sixth, respectively, in
the men's freeski halfpipe final, with Lyndon Sheehan, also
of Wanaka, ninth.
Sleet and snow falling at Rosa Khutor's Extreme Park halfpipe
did not stop the Wanaka trio posting strong scores in their
two qualifying runs to move through to the finals, with Jossi
sitting fifth, Lyndon eighth and Beau-James 10th.
Lyndon's best score in the final competition was 72.60 and
Beau-James' was 80.00.
Jossi executed high-end tricks with clean landings in his
first finals run to earn a score of 85.60, which put him in
third place at the end of the round. However, when Canadian
Mike Riddle posted 90.60 on his second run, Jossi was pushed
out of third and the pressure went on for the second run.
Unable to match his earlier finesse, Jossi's final score of
78.40 meant he just missed out on winning New Zealand's
second Winter Olympics medal.
Ending his Sochi campaign after coming agonisingly close to
the podium, Jossi had mixed feelings about the halfpipe
result, which came five days after he finished 11th in the
men's freeski slopestyle - his preferred event.
''To land those runs I did, I was really, really happy.
''To come fourth is pretty cool for me for a pipe event, I
haven't really been riding a whole lot of pipe recently.''
Meanwhile, younger brother Beau-James was ecstatic with his
''I've never felt this good in my life. I just came sixth at
the Olympics in halfpipe so I'm amazed, I'm so stoked. This
is the No1 proudest moment I've ever had.''
Another Wells brother, Byron, who had a fourth-place finish
at the Olympic test event in 2013, was forced to withdraw
from the halfpipe event the day before because of an injury
sustained in training.
Head park and pipe coach Tom Willmott praised the men's
''It was a supreme team effort ... the guys held themselves
together and focused on their own performances and pulled off
fantastic runs. Personal bests all round, basically.''
Fellow Wanaka freeskier Janina Kuzma will compete in the
women's halfpipe early tomorrow (NZ time).