New Zealand Olympic Team freeskier Byron Wells has withdrawn from the men’s halfpipe competition at the Sochi Olympic Games due to injury.
Wells was due to compete early tomorrow morning. However, the 21-year-old landed awkwardly during training in the Extreme Park halfpipe in Rosa Khutor three days ago, seriously twisting his lower leg.
While the athlete was initially in significant pain and was treated for a suspected fracture, the leg was not found to be broken and Wells’ medical team were hopeful the skier would recover in time for competition.
During the past 72 hours the medical team has worked to reduce deep swelling and pain but the significant soft tissue damage has not sufficiently healed.
This morning (NZ time) the athlete was unable to put on a ski boot and stand or walk.
Wells is deeply frustrated with the injury and says the decision to withdraw has not been easy.
"I’m completely devastated. I had my sights set on a podium finish and was determined to get out there and do it. I have spoken with my medical team, my family and other members of the New Zealand Olympic Team, and have made the decision to withdraw."
Chef de Mission Pete Wardell said he knew the athlete would have given it his all.
"Byron desperately wanted to compete but in spite of rest and treatment is still in considerable pain. He is unable to ski and we support him in his decision."
Father and coach Bruce Wells said he felt for Byron but acknowledged the injury was something to be expected in the high-risk freeski sports.
"They’re jumping off huge walls of ice with cutting edge tricks and these are high risk. We’re all just hugely disappointed the injury is significant enough to keep Byron from doing what he knows he can do well."
Brothers Beau-James and Jossi Wells will compete in halfpipe tomorrow, along with team mate Lyndon Sheehan.
"I’ll be there, supporting my brothers and team-mates. ” Byron said.
He has only recently returned to full competition following an ongoing knee injury.
He finished fourth in the Olympic halfpipe test event in Rosa Khutor in February 2013.
Conditions on the mountain are expected to bring snow and fog to the competition that gets underway late tonight.
The remaining team-members are nonetheless well prepared and looking forward to competition.
- © Fairfax NZ News