Podium hope Wells dialled in says top coach

NO WORRIES: NZ medal hope Jossi Wells.
NO WORRIES: NZ medal hope Jossi Wells.

Kiwi freeskiing star Jossi Wells is in a "good space" heading into tomorrow's Winter Olympics slopestyle event, according to New Zealand's national snowboard and freeskiing coach.

Wells, and younger brother Beau-James, will compete in the qualifiers for the slopestyle at the much-criticised course at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park from 7.10 tonight.

Wells, seen as New Zealand's best hope for an Olympic podium in Sochi, comes into the Games in red-hot form, having won a FIS World Cup in slopestyle in Switzerland last month - and nailing his first-ever switch triple cork at Winter X Games in Aspen three weeks ago.

Tom Willmott, the Kiwi national team coach in snowboarding and freeskiing, said he has never seen the eldest Wells in such a "good space" mentally heading into a major international meet.

"The last couple of years, Jossi has had a few injury issues - and that has prevented him from being on his form and able to do what he can do," Willmott told Fairfax Media.

"There have been elements of frustration at times. But he's got through that, and at the moment, he's got great momentum with his World Cup win a few weeks ago in Switzerland and his finals placing at the X Games Big Air.

"He really does come into Sochi in a good space, and is on the up really. It will be exciting to see him in action."

The Wells boys have been training on the Rosa Khutor course almost every day since last week, with the two brothers filming each other, and giving each other advice as they go.

"There's been a bit of nerves and tension at the top - but our guys are rolling through like it's a regular day at the office - they are having a good time," Willmott said.

"It's showing that they are very confident - very comfortable - and hopefully that rolls through into the competition."

Willmott said that Wells, who sees the freeski halfpipe as the stronger of his two Olympic disciplines, is holding back on the bigger jumps during training, due to a heel injury from last year. However, he is confident the Wanaka 23-year-old will be fine once it comes to competition tomorrow.

"He's looking after his previous lower body injuries a little bit, he's not going all out yet - he's building for those big jumps." 

The Southland Times