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With the 2014 Winter Olympics likely on the horizon, halfpipe skiers worldwide feel like they're standing at the edge of something big. Designation as an Olympic event would vault the sport to an international competitive forum of a scope unprecedented in halfpipe skiing. Along with that, competitors hope, will come a similar expansion in mainstream recognition and financial support for participants.
|Hailing from New Zealand, Jossi Wells is one of the few pipe skiers that already receive funding from national organizations.|
When asked his thoughts on the prospect of Olympic pipe, New Zealand native Jossi Wells, who took silver in pipe at the most recent Winter X and also finished first in the Winter Dew Tour pipe standings, had this to say:
I think the Olympics are going to be great for our sport. Look at what it did for snowboarding. It opened the average joe's eyes to what we are all doing and how entertaining it is. Here in New Zealand, not everyone knows what the X Games are, but everyone in the world knows about the Olympics. The opportunity to compete on the world stage would be amazing. I mean, at the end of the day, we're all just a bunch of glorified show-offs, right?
For Wells, pipe's procession to the Olympics could prove especially convenient. Born in 1990, the Kiwi was only 19 years old this winter his most successful season yet. That would make him 23 a prime age by the standards of just about any sport in the first-ever Olympic ski pipe competition in 2014.
In addition to his youth, Wells enjoys another small advantage over most of his competition, Olympics or no. New Zealand's Winter Performance Programme supports Kiwi athletes like Wells by covering sports medicine and physical therapy bills.
The only other pipe skiers that currently receive national backing are the French, whose National Team affiliation afforded them numerous opportunities to use foam pits alongside their snowboarding counterparts. The results speak for themselves: think Kevin Rolland and Xavier Bertoni. Those two have been planting the French flag in pipes worldwide for two straight years, and making their adversaries turn green in the process. Whether its a coach, a foam pit, or a physical therapist, a little mainstream support can go a long way. "Trust me," says Wells of his WPP backing, "It's a lot."