Wells plan­ning Olympic bid

Central Otago Mirror - - CLASSIFIEDS - MAR­JORIE COOK

Wanaka’s trail blaz­ing Olympian free skier Jossi Wells has spent the best part of this year in knee re­hab.

Af­ter in­jur­ing his knee patella ten­don in train­ing in June, he pretty much got the first plane from the United States to Auck­land for surgery,

Ten weeks later, he is off crutches and ‘‘full steam ahead’’. Ex­cept that does not mean ski­ing; not just yet.

Snow Sports NZ’s ath­lete of the year did not com­pete in the re­cent Win­ter Games and does not plan be­ing back on snow un­til De­cem­ber, in the United States.

There, he will spend six weeks try­ing to con­vince New Zealand Olympic Com­mit­tee and Snow Sports NZ se­lec­tors he should com­pete at the PyeongChang Win­ter Olympics in Fe­bru­ary.

For now, he’s avoid­ing ski­fields and mak­ing reg­u­lar trips to the gym and his phys­io­ther­a­pist.

He has also been wran­gling snow sports ath­letes for the Jossi Wells In­vi­ta­tional Big Air Com­pe­ti­tion at Cardrona Alpine Re­sort this week.

It is the sec­ond time Cardrona has hosted the In­vi­ta­tional, which cel­e­brates the 20 year re­la­tion­ship be­tween the skier and ski­field.

In­vited snow­board­ers and free skiers get five jumps each to show hun­dreds of spectators their best tricks.

Last year’s Big Air was won from 20 ath­letes by James Wood, of Great Bri­tain. This year, the list has stretched out to 30, with many ath­letes al­ready here for the Win­ter Games.

But Wells is not even tempted to give the Big Air a shot. ‘‘I just need to rest my knee. It is still early on in the process. Walk­ing around and stand­ing on it is not ideal,’’ he said.

Wells has bat­tled knee pain since he was 15. In 2013, he had ex­per­i­men­tal stem cell surgery in the patella ten­dons of his knees be­fore go­ing on to fin­ish fourth in half pipe at the 2014 Win­ter Olympics in Sochi, Rus­sia.

Slope style is his pre­ferred event and in 2016 Wells opened up an Olympics quota spot for New Zealand at the Win­ter Olympics slopestyle event, af­ter col­lect­ing an X-Games slope style gold medal and a world cup slope style bronze medal.

From mid-De­cem­ber, Wells plans to be based out of his bag. ‘‘I have a short win­dow of ski­ing be­fore the Olympics so I will go to the re­sorts with the best fea­tures and the best weather. I will make the most of the time I have.’’

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