Wells planning Olympic bid
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.’’