Hopes slopestyle will be all go today

Byron Wells
Byron Wells
A wintry blast from the south yesterday forced the postponement of a Winter Games highlight - the freeski slopestyle - until today.

The games' freeskiing events feature 2010 super pipe champion Jossi Wells (21), of Wanaka, who is proficient in both halfpipe and slopestyle disciplines and is a key spectator drawcard for the competition, originally scheduled at the Snow Park yesterday from 9.30am.

The event should proceed at the same time today, weather permitting, with announcements to the contrary expected from 6am.

Winds were reaching 50kmh at the Snow Park yesterday and although the terrain park was open, Wells said he was pleased to delay competition for a day.

"I am stoked we are not competing today. It's really bad weather up there and it's unsafe to throw our bodies in the air when we can't see where we are landing," he said.

Wells was hoping for better weather today, when he goes head-to-head with his brother Byron Wells (19), another top podium prospect, and Canadian Charles Gagnier, an X Games champion and US Open champion.

Slopestyle freeskiing and snowboarding has gained a greater level of attention in New Zealand recently, following the decision by the International Olympics Committee to include the disciplines in the 2014 Winter Olympics programme for Sochi, Russia.

New Zealand has only ever won one medal at the Winter Olympics - a silver medal by alpine skier Annelise Coberger in 1992 - and New Zealand Snow Sports officials hope the Wells brothers may be able to break the drought.

Wells said yesterday he was not thinking about any of his competitors in the build up to competition this week.

He was unsure what tricks they would throw at him and was just planning to do the best he could.

Wells said those riders who had not had a chance to have a good look at the course would still perform to a high standard today.

"Most riders know how to do their tricks. If their speed is right, they should be OK ... That's our job, to be able to adapt to the features given to us and do the tricks we know," Wells said.

Snow Park general manager Robin Sadowski-Synnott said groomers and park crews were working on the slopestyle course yesterday and would continue overnight.

"They plan to have it nicely groomed, despite the fresh snow.

There are a lot of people shovelling up here," she said.

Sadowski-Synnott said the wind was definitely a problem for the competition and conditions would be reviewed at 6am today.

The freeskiers will be at Cardrona Alpine Resort's half pipe tomorrow and on Saturday while snowboard slopestylers move on to the Snow Park course on Saturday ( to practise for competition on Sunday.

Other Winter Games events today include freestyle cross-country races at the Snow Farm and ice hockey at Dunedin Stadium.



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