Jackson and Beau-James Wells: a family affair
The youngest two members of the New Zealand freestyle skiing dynasty have graduated from the Winter Youth Olympic Games (YOG) to PyeongChang.
If it wasn’t for a knee injury to the eldest sibling, four members of the Wells family would have been skiing for New Zealand in PyeongChang this week. Even so, three siblings competing at the same Games is an amazing achievement – so how did the three Wells brothers, two of whom are Winter YOG athletes, make it to the Olympic Winter Games?
Following in father’s ski-steps
When it comes to skiing and the Wells family, it’s very much “like father, like son”. After Bruce and Stacey Wells moved from their native Australia to New Zealand in the 1980s, Bruce became a passionate skier – working as a ski patrolman in the skiing hotspot of Cardrona.
The couple had four children: Jossi (born in 1990), Byron (1992), Beau-James (1995) and Jackson (1998). Not only did all four of them follow Bruce on to the slopes – they have all become Olympic freestyle skiers. The boys are quick to pay tribute to their parents for getting them out on the snow at an early age, standing them in great stead for their future careers.
Jossi was the first to make the Olympic grade, finishing an agonising fourth in the halfpipe at Sochi four years ago. A multiple medallist at the Winter X Games, he was set to compete in PyeongChang but pulled out last month after failing to recover from a knee injury.
Like Jossi, Byron also qualified for Sochi, but he dropped out at the last minute after suffering a knee injury in training. Happily, he’s back at the Games this year and will make his Olympic debut when the halfpipe begins on 20 February.
Youth Olympic experience
Beau-James and Jackson’s journeys to PyeongChang took them through the Winter YOG, which gave them valuable experience for the slopes ahead.
Beau-James finished just outside the medal places in the ski halfpipe at the Winter YOG in Innsbruck in 2012, then made his Olympic debut in Sochi two years later. Four years on, he carried the flag for New Zealand at the Opening Ceremony in PyeongChang.
With his three elder brothers all having qualified for the Olympic Games, the pressure was really on Jackson – but he successfully followed suit, initially with a sixth-place finish in the ski slopestyle at the Winter YOG Lillehammer 2016 and now with qualification for PyeongChang.
Jackson Wells competes in the men’s ski slopestyle, which starts on Sunday 18 February. Byron and Beau-James Wells both compete in the men’s ski halfpipe, which starts on Tuesday 20 February.