New Zealand competitiors have started the countdown to
the 2014 Winter Olympics in earnest.
Four members of the New Zealand team made finals at the World
Cup opener at Copper Mountain, Colorado, at the weekend.
Wanaka freeskier Byron Wells qualified for the freeski
halfpipe finals. There were four heats, the top two from each
joining the four next best skiers in a 12-man final.
After crashing in his first run, Wells opted for a relatively
conservative second run, which enabled him to qualify first
in his heat and sixth overall with a score of 88.
Unfortunately, he sustained a soft tissue injury which
subsequently prevented him from competing in the finals.
Older brother Jossi Wells was disappointed to miss out on
halfpipe finals qualification, finishing fifth in his heat
with a score of 76 after crashing in his first run.
Younger brother Beau-James Wells finished sixth in his heat.
He landed his first run but a riskier second run pushed the
envelope a little too far.
Lyndon Sheehan, another Wanaka-based skier, suffered a
similar fate; gaining confidence with a strong first run but
coming unstuck in his second. Sheehan placed fourth in his
heat with a score of 68.6.
Janina Kuzma (Wanaka) finished eighth in her heat of the
women's freeski halfpipe following some flat landings and a
lack of amplitude.
Stef Zeestraten (Wanaka), who had a heavy fall in training
and injured his shoulder, finished 47th in the men's
snowboard slopestyle. Ben Comber suffered crashes in both
runs, finishing 78th, with Tim Herbert 51st.
In freeski slopestyle, Jossi Wells landed a new run for the
first time in competition, including back-to-back switch left
and right double 1080s, to score 79.6 and place third in his
heat. He was 21st overall, missing out on finals
qualification. Beau-James Wells scored a 78 on his second run
for fifth in the same heat and 25th overall.
Other New Zealanders in the competition included Hamish
McDougall (Wanaka) and Alec Savery (Queenstown), who placed
55th and 81st respectively. Byron Wells chose not to compete
due to injury.
Hamish Bagley was the sole New Zealand representative in the
men's snowboard halfpipe field. He claimed 18th in his heat
and 71st overall.
In women's snowboard slopestyle, Stefi Luxton (Wanaka) placed
seventh and Rebecca Torr (Te Puke) ninth. Shelly Gotlieb
(Ohakune) suffered a disappointing day, crashing twice.
Slopestyle snowboarding is a new Olympic sport and will
feature for the first time in Sochi, Russia, in 2014.
A fall in training resulted in a bruised heel for Adie
Lawrence (Queenstown) and she was unable to compete in the
women's freeski slopestyle, leaving team-mates Rose Battersby
(Taupo) and Anna Wilcox-Silfverberg (Auckland) to fly the
flag. Battersby scraped into the finals despite a first-run
crash, and crashed again in the finals. Anna
Wilcox-Silfverberg was 16th after qualifying.
The snowboarders now prepare for the world championships in
Canada, while the skiers head to their world championships in
For Jossi and Byron Wells, all thoughts will be on the
X-Games, beginning in Aspen on January 27. Jossi will compete
in the Big Air and Byron in the freeski halfpipe.