Jossi Wells 'happy' despite bronze medal agony
Wanaka skier Jossi Wells has described himself as a ''happy'' fourth place getter, despite narrowly missing out on Kiwi Olympic history in Sochi this morning.
Wells finished fourth in the first-ever men's freeski halfpipe final, just missing out becoming New Zealand's first Winter Olympics medalist since Annelise Coberger in 1992.
In a final that took place in heavy sleet and snow at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park, Wells nailed a stunning 85.60 on his first run, and 78.40 on his second - but was pipped for a podium finish thanks to a strong final attempt by Canadian Mike Riddle, who would take silver.
Wells, who specializes largely in slopestyle, admitted he was disappointed not to claim a spot on the podium, but was satisfied with his overall performance; labeling his first run as the best he has ever landed in halfpipe.
''I haven't been riding too much halfpipe recently, so I went out there and tried to have some fun today - and try to lay down the best runs I could,'' the 23-year-old told Fairfax Media.''I definitely did that. It's a bummer not to make it onto the podium, for sure, but I'm probably the most happy dude to get fourth place out of anyone, ever.'
Wells' fourth place finish is New Zealand's best result at the Winter Olympics since Coberger in Albertville; a Games that also saw fourth place finishes for the Kiwi 5000m speed skating relay team, and short track speed skater Mike McMillen.
Wells' first run featured an impressive series of jumps ranging from a double 1200 to an impressive switch 900, and saw him heading into the final run in bronze medal position.
His second run was similarly strong - but included one slightly messy landing that cost him on his final score.
American David Wise, the current world number one and FIS world champion, won gold, while Frenchman Kevin Rolland claimed bronze.
Wells' near-historic finish was backed up by impressive showings by his fellow Kiwis in the final.
Brother Beau-James Wells finished sixth while Wanaka's Lyndon Sheehan ended in ninth.
The younger Wells' first run was a solid, though unspectacular, 62.00, while his stylish second run scored him an impressive 80.00 - which would eventually seal his final placing.
Australian-born Sheehan scored 55.20 on his first run, before a strong final attempt that scored a creditable 72.60.
Wells took to Twitter shortly after the final to share his thoughts.
4th! Ugh! Yes! Agh! Woo! Bit of all that going on right now. Real hyped how I skied!— Jossi Wells (@JossiWells) February 18, 2014
Damn... Skiing is so dope. Olympics don't make or break any of us. End of the day it's all just skiing. & it all rules.— Jossi Wells (@JossiWells) February 18, 2014