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Wells warming up well for Winter Olympics

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 9/02/2017
Wells is hoping to lead a New Zealand team of between 15 to 20 athletes to South Korea. © Getty Images Wells is hoping to lead a New Zealand team of between 15 to 20 athletes to South Korea.

Kiwi freeskier Jossi Wells is relishing a blissfully injury-free run-in ahead of next year's Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.

He's hoping to lead a New Zealand team of between 15 to 20 athletes to South Korea, chasing an elusive second Winter Olympics medal to go with Annelise Coberger's slalom silver from the 1992 Games.

Exactly a year out from the Games, Wells is enjoying a vastly different preparation to the battle he had just to qualify for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.

Injured for much of 2013, Wells struggled to qualify for the Sochi Games, and wasn't able to complete as many of the build-up events as he would have liked.

"Because of that, it kind of came down to the wire for me to qualify on quota," he said.

"I had to go to the last World Cup right before the Games - it was the very last chance to qualify."

Wells made the most of his chance, but couldn't recapture his best once he got to Sochi, finishing 11th in the slopestyle and fourth in the halfpipe.

"I'm feeling good having a little bit more of a buffer time period on my hands, and a few more chances of qualifying enough points to get that quota spot," he said.

"I think this time around it's going to be not necessarily easier, but I've got a healthy body on my side, which is going to be a game-changer for me."

Wells is hoping to be close to his best for the next Olympic qualifier, which begins in Quebec City in Canada on Friday (NZT).

Freeski and snowboard athletes are expected to form the majority of the NZ team with speed skaters, athletes from skeleton, alpine skiing and curling also in contention.

Ashley Light, Snow Sports NZ's director of high performance, says athletes and coaches are focusing on qualifying nation spots to meet Olympic nomination criteria across multiple disciplines.

"Developing depth of talent across all the disciplines has been a key focus of the programme, and we are now seeing encouraging results from new athletes," he said.

"From a selection perspective, this is great news for New Zealand, as the competition for places on the team heats up and the athletes rise to the occasion and perform to their highest potential."

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