It came close to being a perfect day in the halfpipe today with three out of four of New Zealand’s freeskiers finishing in the top 12 and qualifying through to the finals. Byron Wells was the fourth highest qualifier of the day, closely followed by brother Beau-James in fifth. Nico Porteous placed 11th while older brother Miguel was 17th.
Byron nailed his top score on the first run, landing a big and clean switch left double 9 on the first hit and scoring well for trick variety. Today’s result felt extra special for Byron who missed out on competing at the 2014 Sochi Games.
“Not being able to compete at Sochi was devastating,” he said. “To land that first run today and have the pressure off, I couldn’t be happier. To have a really positive experience at the Olympics is absolutely key for me.”
Beau-James Wells was the first of the Kiwi contingent to drop in to the pipe and set the bar high with a score of 86.20 on run. He repeated the same run on round two but sent the first hit – a switch left 720 tail grab – higher and upped his score to 88.20 on run two, just 0.4 points behind his brother.
“To be just behind him is great and for both of us to be going through to finals is the best position we could be in,” said Beau-James.
“To land my first run and ski out was an awesome feeling. I felt a bit more relaxed going into my second run and was stoked to get a couple more points.”
Nico Porteous had “the scariest hour of my life” between runs after missing the sixth hit on his first run and scoring well outside the top 12.
“My first run didn’t go to well,” he explains. “I popped too much on my left side double cork 1260 and that caused me to land backseat and miss my last hit.”
However, the 16-year-old handled the pressure well and executed a better on his second attempt, taking him through to finals in 11th place.
The day would end in disappointment for Miguel Porteous. Run one started off with some big hits and all was going well until a tricky landing on the left 1080 on the fourth hit caused him to lose speed and then sketch the landing on the fifth.
Knowing that he had the tricks to make finals, Miguel once again went big on run two with a huge right double 12 on the first hit. The rest of the run was well-executed but he lost points for only including five tricks where the judges saw potential for six and came back with a middling score of 62.60 for 17th.
Men’s freeski halfpipe finals are scheduled for Thursday 22 February at 3.30pm NZT
7 months ago