Wanaka freeskier Jossi Wells with mother Stacey at the
freeski slopestyle event at the 2014 Winter Olympics, in
Sochi. Photo supplied.
Proud mum Stacey Wells returned to Wanaka from her Winter
Olympics ''adventure'' this week, with the highs and lows of
her sons' Sochi campaigns still sinking in.
It was the first time Mrs Wells had travelled to see her
freeskiing family compete internationally - usually she stays
in Wanaka and watches live video streams - and the experience
was well worth the journey, she told the Otago Daily
''It was really exciting. Although you do get a better view
sitting watching it on your computer or your TV ... it was
just great to be there.''
Sons Jossi, Byron and Beau-James were in New Zealand's
Olympic team, along with their father and coach Bruce.
Youngest son Jackson was not old enough to qualify.
There was ''some good stuff and some bad stuff'' for the
Wells boys in Sochi, but perhaps most heartbreaking was
second-eldest son Byron's injury just days before the freeski
halfpipe, which forced him to withdraw from competition.
''That was a horrible thing to happen to him. Very
disheartening for all of us ... When you work hard for
something for so many years towards one single day and then
three days before you hurt yourself like that, it's pretty
Byron was the strongest medal contender in halfpipe, the
event in which brothers Jossi and Beau-James surpassed
expectations and finished fourth and sixth, respectively.
''[Byron] actually skis better pipe than Jossi and Beau ...
in every likelihood Byron would have been on the podium. So
that all hurts as well.''
For Jossi, finishing 11th in his best event, the freeski
slopestyle, was hugely disappointing.
However, he was largely unfazed by criticism from the New
Zealand public over his decision to play it safe on the jumps
after mistakes early in the run ruled him out of medal
''He lets the whole publicity thing wash over him. I don't
even know if he reads that stuff. He doesn't give much time
to haters ... it's not in his character to do that,'' his
''I think the New Zealand public probably didn't quite
understand how the scoring system works, so he copped a lot
of flak from people thinking he gave up and he wasn't
professional ... Jossi, for one, has never, ever been a
person to give up.''
In fact, his three zero spins - taking off and landing
backwards, no spinning - and the style with which he executed
them, were lauded by the international freeskiing community.
''He does them the best in the world and everybody loves them
and so for the public to look at that, it looks like he's
just going over a jump and doing nothing, but it's actually a
very, very technical trick.''
Finishing fourth in halfpipe, despite knee problems which
prevented him from skiing halfpipe at all the past year, was
''amazing'' but bittersweet for Jossi.
''He came up to me at the end. He was calling over the fence.
'Hi Mum', he says. `Yeah I'm that guy, I'm that guy that came
fourth' ... he was pleased, but there's always that 'fourth
place - grrrr, so close but yet so far'.''
Beau-James, meanwhile, was still in delighted disbelief.
''We didn't even really think he'd make the Olympics this
When he got in we thought: 'That's fantastic'. And then when
he made the final it was like: 'Wow, he made the final'. And
then when he came sixth it was even more amazing.''
The prospect of having four sons at the 2018 Winter Olympics
depended largely on whether Jossi's body could go the
distance, Mrs Wells said.
''He wants to ski until he can't ski any longer, so if the
old knees hold together for another four years, maybe.''
Byron returns to Wanaka on Monday, while his brothers and
father remain in the northern hemisphere for coming events.