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Sibling rivalry

1/20/2011

With three pairs of brothers and sisters competing at Winter X Games 15, sibling rivalries are poised to reach new heights -- literally. The family ties bind across all three sports in Aspen: Jamie and Joanie Anderson in snowboarding, Jossi and Byron Wells in skiing, and Caleb and Colton Moore in snowmobiling. How do they influence each other as athletes and competitors? How important is it for the younger to beat the older? And, most importantly, who do their parents really want to see on the podium?

Skiing: Byron and Jossi Wells
The Wells brothers -- Byron, 18, and Jossi, 20, from Wanaka, New Zealand -- have been competing against each other for half a decade, but they come into Aspen in an unusual position. The last time the two faced off at a Winter X Games event, last March in Tignes, France, Byron actually beat Jossi by one spot: fifth to Jossi's sixth.

"He was pretty stoked," says Jossi. "We're best friends, but there's definitely a little bit of sibling rivalry between us. I never want my little brother to beat me."

It doesn't happen often. This year will mark Jossi's fifth appearance in the Games, following a stellar season including a first-place showing at the Winter Dew Tour in Utah, and a silver in SuperPipe at Winter X Games 14.

Jossi, who also competes in slopestyle, admits that his experience gives him an edge. But he also says that Byron is coming on strong -- in addition to Tignes, Byron topped Jossi by one spot at the first Winter Dew Tour of this season in Breckenridge. Byron's also bigger and stronger, which contrasts with Jossi's trademark agility. "He can carry more momentum into his hits," says Jossi.

Still, Byron looks up to his older sibling -- even when they're not in the pipe. "We've always skied together and I've learned a lot from him," says Byron. He also admits that being younger is more stressful. "Everyone sees his run and then looks at you to see what you can do," he says. "But at the same time I don't have as much to lose; if he beats me it's no big deal, if I win, it's a huge deal."

Case in point: when he finished Jossi in Europe. "After that it was finally my turn to poke fun at him," Byron adds. "He didn't enjoy it too much. I told him I'd give him three days to let it settle in before I really ripped into him."

They both might be on the receiving end soon enough. Younger brothers Beau-James, 15, and Jackson, 12, are also coming down the pipe -- pun definitely intended. But ultimately Jossi and Byron are happy to keep medals and podium spots in the family. "If it's not me up there, I'd rather have it be my brother," says Jossi. "And I'm sure the feeling is mutual."

Snowboarding: Jamie and Joanie Anderson
Growing up as two of eight kids made Jamie and Joanie Anderson competitive at two kinds of tables -- the dinner, and the table-top snowboard jumps at South Lake Tahoe. Dialing in the latter led them to win Winter X gold on the same day in 2007, becoming the only sisters to ever do so.

Thankfully for their parents, they were in different events. Jamie, 20, took slopestyle while older sister, Joanie, 23, won snowboard cross. But the two have squared off against each other twice at Winter X in Snowboarder X with Joanie winning each time -- but then Joanie is known as a boardercross threat. For her part, Jamie is one of the most respected park riders in the sport and has a 2009 Rider Of The Year title from Snowboarder magazine to prove it (the youngest rider to ever achieve that honor). "It's cool because our different events showcase our different strengths," Joanie says.

"Our parents never pushed us to compete, but they were always there to support us," says Jamie, a four-time Winter X medalist who also took the gold in 2008. "But we definitely pushed each other growing up, and still do. We feed off each other."

It helped that all their other siblings snowboarded as well. "I think it's had a lot to do with our success," says Joanie, a two-time Winter X medalist and six-time competitor. "We all learned together. If one sister did something, the other would try it as well. It's a great support system."

Neither was in top shape last winter in Aspen. Joanie dislocated her right hip at a World Cup event the previous season and Jamie fractured her pelvis two weeks before the 2009 Winter X Games before rupturing her spleen two months later. But both come to Winter X 15 fully healed and set to reclaim their respective podiums.

Snowmobiling: Caleb and Colten Moore
For the Moore brothers from Krum, Texas -- Caleb, 23 and Colten, 21 -- this year's Winter X Games is Round Two in a snowmobile battle that began rather famously last year. Caleb took bronze in freestyle while Colten finished sixth, but it was Colten on top in Best Trick with a fifth place that was one spot ahead of Caleb. For both brothers, the events were a first.

Professional ATV riders, the Moores entered Winter X Games 14 just 32 days after getting on sleds for the first time. Despite learning side-by-side, they developed noticeably different styles; Colten is more calculated and smooth while Caleb goes bigger. While both have a shot at the podium, "If our parents had their way, we'd tie," says Caleb.

The brothers, however, don't share the sentiment; they'd each love nothing more than to win. "We're a lot closer than most siblings and we even help each other out on the course," says Colten. "But at the same time I'd love to beat him. Being the younger brother I have to work hard to step out of his shadow."

He's not kidding. At age 12, Colten broke both femurs and his pelvis in an ATV race. At 15 and 17 he broke his left ankle, and at 18 his front teeth. He's also had 10 concussions. "Having an older brother helps push the craziness in you," he says. "He'll try something, and then you'll have to as well."

Those hard knocks have now placed him on equal footing with his sibling. "He's really caught up," says Caleb. "Our skill levels are nearly identical now. And it's great to have him around...he keeps things light and not as serious. I consider myself lucky every day that we have each other to push each other to be the best we can be."