Freeski Olympian Beau-James Wells has been named New Zealand flag bearer for the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games.
The delighted 22-year-old was presented with Te Mahutonga, the New Zealand team’s kakahu (cloak) today by Chef de Mission Pete Wardell in the presence of brothers Jackson and Byron and other members of the New Zealand team.
“It is my great honour to name Beau-James Wells as flag bearer,” said Pete Wardell, Chef de Mission of the New Zealand Olympic Team in PyeongChang.
“Beau-James is an inspiring athlete who has been at the forefront of freesking in New Zealand. He did us proud in Sochi with a sixth place in the halfpipe while he was still a teenager and competing at his first Olympic Games.
“He was able to overcome a significant ACL injury to finish the 2017 season with a tenth placing at New Zealand’s competitive Winter Games and a sixth at the Copper Mountain World Cup.
“He is a great role model for New Zealanders and will be honoured to wear Te Mahutonga as he leads us into the Olympic Games Opening Ceremony, tonight here in PyeongChang."
Above: Beau James Wells
Te Mahutonga was last worn by Peter Burling at the Rio Olympic Games Opening Ceremony in 2016. It was also worn by current New Zealand Olympic speed skater Shane Dobbin at Sochi 2014.
Wells said he was incredibly proud to be chosen to lead the New Zealand Team at the Olympic Games Opening Ceremony.
“I’m so pumped to be waving the flag for our team tonight, representing this great nation of ours. It’s a huge honour and it going to be a night I’ll never forget that’s for sure.”
Wells arrived in PyeongChang last night, along with brothers Jackson and Byron and father Bruce Wells. They were welcomed to the New Zealand team and presented with the traditional pounamu team pendant.
“Getting welcomed to the team village last night was epic. The New Zealand Team did a haka for us and it was pretty emotional,” he said.
Heading into his second games, Wells has had time to plan his Olympic experience. “For me it is to land the run that I’ve been thinking about for the last four years as best I possibly can and enjoy every moment of it.”
ABOUT THE FLAG BEARER
The flagbearer is chosen by the New Zealand Olympic Team Chef de Mission taking into account a wide range of factors including past performances, ability to lead and inspire New Zealand athletes, competition preparation and performance standards.
ABOUT TE MAHUTONGA
The kakahu (cloak) is worn only by the flagbearer of New Zealand Olympic teams and is a symbol of the Maori traditions at the core of our unique team culture and was first worn at Athens in 2004. Te Mahutonga (Southern Cross) was presented to the New Zealand Olympic Committee by the Maori Queen, Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu, in 2004. The kakahu has been entirely hand woven and took seven months of concentrated work to complete. The cloak is not just an exquisite work of art, but a mantle of leadership too.
ABOUT BEAU JAMES WELLS
Beau James Wells began skiing when he was three years old and had his sights set on becoming a professional freeskier from a young age. He began competing on the international circuit at the age of 15 and a year later (2012) was selected to represent NZ at the inaugural Youth Olympic Winter Games where he placed fourth in halfpipe. He became Junior World Champ in halfpipe in 2014, hung onto his title in 2015 and also added a silver medal in slopestyle. In 2014 Beau-James represented New Zealand at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games placing 6th in halfpipe and 21st in slopestyle.
Beau James finished 10th in a world-class field at the Winter Games New Zealand 2017. Last year he also placed 6th at the Copper Mountain World Cup in Colorado.
Career highlights: 2nd place Dew Tour halfpipe 2015; 2015 & 2014 Freeski Halfpipe Junior World Champion; 6th in halfpipe at 2014 Olympic Winter Games
Above: Beau James Wells competing
Olympic Winter Games
About The PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games
The Olympic Winter Games will take place in PyeongChang, South Korea February 9-25.
A team of 21 New Zealand athletes are competing at the games in speed skating, skeleton, freeski, snowboard and alpine skiing.
Visit www.olympic.org.nz for athlete bios and games times results and news. Follow @nzolympics on twitter and instagram #EarnTheFern for regular updates.