HOMETOWN hero Jossi Wells isn’t feeling the weight of expectation ahead of the Winter Games freeskiing doubleheader this weekend – he’s too busy sizing up his toughest competition.
Wells will face off again with United States freeskier Bobby Brown, 18, in both the halfpipe at Cardrona on Saturday and the big air at Coronet Peak on Sunday – but he insists there’s no bitterness between the two podium regulars.
“It’s not like other sports where rivals kind of hate each other,” says Wells, 19. “We’re all pretty close friends so it’s fun.”
Wells took silver in the slopestyle event at The
Remarkables last weekend – pipping Brown, who finished third.
The week before, Brown came out on top during the NZ Freeski Open slopestyle event at Cardrona, where Wells won the halfpipe competition.
Brown’s a relative newcomer to the freeski scene – the teen heart-throb only turned pro last year after winning the first stop of the Winter Dew Tour on his home mountain in Breckenridge, Colorado, last December.
In January this year, he was invited to enter the Winter X Games in Aspen and came sixth in slopestyle – “that was probably the coolest thing I’ve ever done”.
“I’ve been working really hard and it’s cool to see it pay off.
“Last year was the start of the double flips and I was super into it so I decided to learn some myself so that really helped me in my competitions this year.”
Brown “looks up” to Wells as “the nicest kid I know”.
“I’m just in awe skiing with him because every single day you learn something new – he does a new trick and he does it with so much style.
“Skiing with him pushes me so it’s kind of a sweet thing we’ve got going on. Now we’re pretty good friends.”
Brown shares his name with the drug-troubled American R&B singer-songwriter who was mar-ried to singer Whitney Houston – and the joke’s not lost on him.
“I’m super used to it – every single contest [announcers] will be like, ‘Here comes Bobby Brown with … Whitney Houston’. I’ve heard that multiple times.
“It’s kind of funny, I’m always getting jokes for it.”
As for Wells on Brown, the Kiwi reckons his American mate is a “tough competitor” but their friendship means it’ll be a fun competition on Sunday.
“We turn our game faces on maybe a minute before we drop in but when we get to the bottom it’s all back to being friendly.”
Wells has been resting up since injuring his knee in last Saturday’s slopestyle event.
“My knee’s still pretty sore. I’m at physio every day and I’m hoping it should be at least about 80 per cent by the time I get to go skiing,” he says.
“I dug the patella tendon into the fat pad in my knee. It should just settle down.”