Wells, Wells, Wells - a first

Proud mum Stacey Wells, of Wanaka, with the tiny skis her sons learned  on as toddlers. Sons ...
Proud mum Stacey Wells, of Wanaka, with the tiny skis her sons learned on as toddlers. Sons (from left) Jossi, Byron and Beau-James (and above competing in the Winter Games New Zealand at Cardrona last August) and husband Bruce. Photo by Lucy Ibbotson.

The freeskiing Wells family of Wanaka has made New Zealand Olympic history after three of its members were selected to represent New Zealand at next month's Winter Olympics in Sochi.

Stacey Wells was yesterday celebrating the news sons Jossi (23), Byron (21) and Beau-James (18) had qualified for the Olympic team, which also includes her husband Bruce as freeski coach.

It is the first time three members of one family have competed at the same Olympics for New Zealand, and one of few documented instances of the accomplishment in international Olympic history.

Youngest brother Jackson (15), who was not old enough to be considered for Olympic qualification, has his sights set on 2018.

With her family half a world away at the X-Games in Aspen, Colorado, when the Olympic line-up was announced yesterday morning, Mrs Wells toasted their success with friends in Wanaka and Skyped her congratulations.

The news was ''a bit of a culmination'' of many years of freeski success for her sons, who had been ''pretty much on skis since they could walk'', she said.

Freeski halfpipe and slopestyle are new Olympic sports this year, so until now the X-Games have been the siblings' top event on the international circuit.

''But the opportunity to be at the Olympics and represent their country is definitely a privilege for them and they're very excited,'' Mrs Wells said.

''It's pretty cool and they all get on so well together as well, so ... if they don't do well they're always supporting their brothers.''

Recent World Cup gold medallist Jossi, who achieved his dream of being crowned the best freeskier in the world in 2010, is the overall freeski world No 2 and will compete in halfpipe and slopestyle at the Olympics, as will world No 4 Beau-James.

Byron will compete in halfpipe, in which he finished fifth at last year's world championships.

Mrs Wells will be in Sochi to cheer on her family, but is well practised in supporting them from afar too - watching live computer streams of their events and speaking with them several times a day during the months they spend training and competing in the northern hemisphere every year.

''I don't miss too much. It doesn't matter if I have to get up in the middle of the night.''

It was impossible to predict her sons' medal chances, as all their opponents had appeared on a podium at some point during the past two years, she said.

''There's so many variables that you can't control in this sport ... it's really whose game it is on the day.

''We're hopeful. The boys are going out there well-prepared. They're ready for it and we just hope it's their day when the day comes.''

As Jackson continues to climb the world freeski ranks, it is possible the next Winter Olympics will bring a new national first for the Wells family - four siblings competing at once.

''If the older boys' bodies hold out for another four years.''

Nine Otago athletes, all from Queenstown and Wanaka, were named in the 15-strong New Zealand Olympic squad.

- lucy.ibbotson@odt.co.nz

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