Wells calls time on ‘amazing journey’

Byron Wells warms up before the men’s ski halfpipe at Phoenix Snow Park at Pyeongchang-gun, South...
Byron Wells warms up before the men’s ski halfpipe at Phoenix Snow Park at Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea, in 2018. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES
Byron Wells is to switch from tearing down mountains to flying around the skies.

The Wanaka athlete has announced his retirement from competitive freeskiing.

He hopes to finish studying for his commercial helicopter licence and transition into a career using that.

It ends an international snow sports career dating back to 2008, when he burst on to the scene, aged 15.

One of four brothers to excel internationally on the slopes — Jossi, Beau-James and Jackson are the others — he forged an impressive career.

He was selected for the Winter Olympics in 2014 and 2018, although injury limited his participation.

He also competed in 15 world cups, eight Winter X Games and finished second at the Dew Tour halfpipe finals in 2012.

“It has been an amazing journey this past 15 years as a professional skier, full of moments and friends I will cherish for the rest of my life," Wells (28) said.

"It was a roller-coaster of a career, plagued with injury for the better part, but looking back there were some amazing highs as well.

"My career didn’t turn out as I had planned in my head but, nonetheless, I enjoyed the success I did achieve and got to travel the world doing what I love with my family.

"I wouldn’t change a thing as it has made me the man I am today."

He said it was time for a change and, as he had grown older, his priorities had evolved.

His body was feeling "beat up" and his knees had been painful for the past five years.

By stopping now he would be able to get back to doing other things loved.

That was as simple as being able to kick a ball around with his kids, go on hikes and explore New Zealand without pain.

He was also looking forward to summer after 17 years of back-to-back winters.

While injuries have been a big part of his career, Wells has found ways to remain involved in the sport during those times.

He has worked as a judge, coach and event commentator, earning him a reputation internationally as one of the sport’s good people.

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