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Young Kiwi Freeskiers Impress World’s Best

Young Kiwi Freeskiers Impress World’s Best

Two young New Zealand freeskiers have achieved remarkable results on the USA competitive circuit during their Northern Hemisphere training season taking podium places in nearly every competition they competed in.

Jossi Wells (14) and younger brother Byron (12), who train at Cardrona Alpine Resort near Lake Wanaka, competed in the US Open Freeski Championships and the US Nationals as well as a number of smaller events in which they consistently came first or second.

Jossi made it to the semifinals in the US Open Halfpipe and came 2nd in the US Nationals, both times competing against skiers twice his age. Byron came 1st in his age group in the US Nationals Halfpipe and was also one of the top three selected to compete in the Sports Illustrated for Kids Next Snow Search.

Their biggest achievement was their involvement in the World Superpipe Championships in Park City. An invitation-only event for the world’s top 15 skiers, the brothers had so impressed world freeski champions Tanner Hall (USA) and Jon Olssen (SWE) they were invited to forerun the event in front of thousands of spectators.

Then, in a dream come true, one of the competitors dropped out and Jossi was able to compete. As the youngest competitor in the history of the competition, his remarkable display of riding and confidence earned him 8th place.

This outstanding result culminated in a personal invitation by Jon Olssen to take part in his elite invitational event in Sweden, an invitation only extended to the world’s best freeskiers. Unfortunately an injury sustained in the US Nationals prevented Jossi from taking part and the brothers returned to New Zealand this week.

Both brothers feel their skiing has benefited hugely from their time in the States and said the level of support given to them was amazing.

“My skiing has improved so much and I feel more confident about doing my tricks,” said Jossi. “The standard of skiing in the States is so much higher than in New Zealand and with so many good people, you really want to push yourself and get as good as them. They were all really encouraging and I performed better as everyone was helping me and egging me on.”

“It was awesome standing at the top of the superpipe in front the biggest crowd I had ever skied for – it just made me want to go higher,” said Byron of the World Superpipe Championships. “It was unreal skiing with all the pros we’ve been watching in movies. We learned heaps from them and got loads of ideas.”

The brothers will train at Cardrona Alpine Resort for the New Zealand winter, defending their national titles and continuing their quest for a place on the New Zealand Winter Olympic Team for 2010.

-ends-

31 March 2005

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