Published Thursday 09 January 2014

Breckenridge, USA- (8 January 2014) – New Zealand freeskier Jossi Wells has pushed through his recovering heel injury to qualify for the Slopestyle Finals in the The International Ski Federation (FIS) Freestyle World Cup in Breckenridge, increasing his chances of qualifying for the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi 2014 . 

The competition marks a return for Jossi Wells in only his second day back on snow for the northern hemisphere season.

With so much still to be decided before the Olympics, so few events left, and only so many precious quota spots to go around, the Breckenridge event promises to be one of the most intensely-battled competitions of the year.

Today was the turn of the freeski slopestyle athletes to battle for high scores, not only against their fellow competitors but against the elements.

Heavy snow fell throughout the competition, causing several athletes to falter or crash during their runs. The field of 94 male competitors was split into four heats with the four top-scoring skiers in each heat progressing to finals. Putting all challenges to the back of his mind, Jossi focused on the task in hand and put down his first run with a score of 79.66 to place third in his heat and progress to finals. 

“Competition is about who’s the best on the day and who can lay it down in the adverse conditions and so I knew I had to not whine about it and get to work,” remarked Jossi.

“I knew that I had to do it. To lay down a run and make it through to finals feels pretty good. I managed to pull through when I had to. I’m really happy.”

Younger brothers Beau-James and Jackson placed 6th and 11th respectively in the same heat with another Wanaka athlete, Hamish McDougall, placing 11th in his heat

.In the women’s competition Anna Willcox-Silfverberg, the only New Zealand competitor, placed sixth in her heat, just missing out on finals. Her coach, Peter Legnavsky, was pleased with the solid performance of the young athlete who only took up the sport three years ago but is hopeful of securing her spot for Sochi.

“I’m feeling really privileged. Because I’m so new to the sport I never would have dreamed to be in this position a year ago even, so just to have that opportunity would be amazing. I’m going to give it all I’ve got.” Willcox said.

Freeski slopestyle finals are scheduled to take place on Friday (US time). Tomorrow (Thursday US time) will see freeski athletes compete in the halfpipe qualifying rounds. The Breckenridge event is the last World Cup freeski halfpipe competition of the season before the Sochi Games, while for the freeski slopestyle athletes the World Cup in Gstaad, Switzerland on January 18th will represent their last shot at Olympic qualification.

Results from the Freestyle Ski World Cup Slopestyle are available here: http://www.fis-ski.com/freestyle-skiing/halfpipe-slopestyle/events-and-places/results/

The New Zealand Olympic Team is expected to be made up of around 14 athletes across both ice and snow sports with the majority of athletes competing in the freeski and snowboard events. New Zealand Olympic

Team Selection will be complete by mid-late January 2014.   

 The Sochi Olympic Games take place 7 – 23 February 2014.