Wanaka freeskier Jossi Wells has missed out on creating Kiwi Olympic history, finishing 11th in the final of the men's slopestyle event in Sochi yesterday.
Wells notched a highest score of 60.60, which was his first run in the final, but it was a figure far behind that needed for a spot on the podium at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park.
The 23-year-old Kiwi's first run meant he was placed ninth heading into the 'do-or-die' final run, but only scored 50.00 after a rough rails section and losing momentum on a poor landing to his first jump.
Wells labelled his effort in the final as ''disappointing.''
''I put it all on the line today,'' he told Fairfax Media. ''We went out there to get on the podium. I didn't hold back, and sometimes when you do that, you fall off.''
Despite missing out on the medals, the finish equals New Zealand's best result at the Winter Olympics since the 1992 Albertville Games when alpine skier Annelise Coberger claim a silver medal in the slalom.
Wells' 11th matches skeleton racer Ben Sandford's finish at 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, and fellow skeleton racer Liz Couch's finish at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games. Slalom skier Claudia Riegler also finished 11th in 2002.
Wells, who qualified tenth for the final, had a tidy first run for his top score, beginning with a clean, technical approach to the rail section.
He landed an impressive double cork on the first jump, but lost momentum for his final two jumps on the landing - though he did finish with a tidy switch 540.
The American skiers made a clean sweep in the final with Joss Christensen taking the gold, Gus Kenworthy the silver and world number one Nick Goepper the bronze.
Christensen's victory is a huge upset, given the Salt Lake City native is ranked 36th in the world - but he earned it with a massive 95.80 score with his first run which included an eye-catching cork 1280.
Earlier, Well's younger brother Beau-James missed out on the final, finishing 21st in what was a tense qualifying heat for skiers after a number of falls in the first round of runs.
The 18-year-old scored 36.00 in his first run, which saw him lose momentum after a mistimed backside 720 on his second jump, before nailing a 66.60 on his second attempt.
''I had a bit of a scruffy up on my first run, so I wasn't that happy with it,'' Beau-James said.
''I was just really happy to lay down that second one. I wasn't really concentrating on the result - I was just trying to land the best run I could.''
Swedish star Jesper Tjader, seen as a big chance before Sochi, crashed out of competition with two poor runs.
Freeski slopestyle has been included at the Winter Olympics for the first time this year, after the IOC agreed to include it in the programme in 2011.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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