1 Feb 2016

Wells wins X-Games gold

3:27 pm on 1 February 2016

Wanaka freeskiier Jossi Wells has created history by becoming the first New Zealander to win gold at the prestigious X-Games.

Wells claimed his maiden gold medal at the Winter X-Games on Monday (NZT), winning the men's slopestyle event in Aspen, Colorado.

The New Zealand freestyle skier Jossi Wells.

The New Zealand freestyle skier Jossi Wells. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

It's a watershed victory for the 25-year-old, who finished second in the event in 2008 and 2013.

The result brings Wells' X-Games medal tally to five in his 10th year competing at the prestigious event.

With the field stacked with the current who's who of freeski slopestyle, including three-time X-Games gold medallist Nick Goepper (USA) and Olympic gold medallist Joss Christensen (USA), nothing short of perfection would impress the judges.

Mother Nature would add to the challenge, with 35cm of snow falling on the slopestyle course overnight slowing competitors' speed and making it difficult to throw down the most technical of tricks.

Competing the previous evening (Sunday night NZT) in the Big Air, Wells had struggled for speed and hadn't been able to land the tricks he'd planned, and he said he had been "feeling pretty bummed."

But the slopestyle event would be a whole different story. Landing his first run of three with a top score of 88.33, Wells knew he was in contention for a medal.

"As soon as I cleared the first jump I knew I could do the run I wanted to do."

The run includes a new trick - the switch left double 14 with safety grab - learnt during the spring training camp held at Cardrona Alpine Resort at the end of the New Zealand season.

The new addition to the trick repertoire has already paid dividends, earning Jossi a silver medal at the Dew Tour in December 2015 and now gold at X Games.

Wells' first run score of 88.33 would always have been enough for the win, only USA's Gus Kenworthy coming close with a score of 87.33; however, the New Zealand knew he could do better.

Coming in for his third and final run he carved his way down the course, making easy work of the rail section at the top and spinning cleanly off the three jumps for a high score of 90.00.

"This is my 10th year competing at X-Games and it's awesome to win the gold here today," Wells said after the competition.