After a hiatus of roughly a month between Superpipe events, from European X Games to the World Superpipe Invitational, New Zealand’s Jossi Wells has added the 2010 AFP Superpipe Title to his belt for the year. “It feels great [to win]! My main goal for the season was taking the overall so being pipe champ is a nice little bonus,” explains Wells. By March, Jossi had built up such a commanding lead between all three disciplines that he was uncatchable and named the Overall Men’s winner.
However, in the halfpipe points race, it came down to the last event of the year. Jossi held a sizable, but not impenetrable lead over France’s Kevin Rolland. Rolland, who gold medaled at both X Games was just 358 points shy of Wells, who dominated Winter Dew Tour. “For sure I was aware that Kevin could knock me off the top spot,” tells Jossi “He won both the X Games this year which are our biggest comps, so he got some good points for those.”
It seemed that the showdown would be held at the revamped WSI Superpipe in Whistler, BC. However, as fate would have it, neither Wells or Rolland competed at WSI (possibly due to the Icelandic Volcano keeping a number of athletes in Europe) thus giving Wells the Superpipe crown. In fact, at the time, none of the top nine on the AFP Superpipe list started at WSI.
Despite the WSI fizzle, the 2009-2010 Superpipe year was littered with Suerpipe events and an ever-growing list of talented riders. The AFP takes the top 4 results from pipe athletes (as opposed to 3 for slopestyle and big air) meaning to be the best pipe rider, you have to be consistent on a very high level. “My whole program this year was just to land my runs,” says Wells. “I knew some of the athletes had the potential to have really good runs, so I didn’t worry about what they were going to do and just did my own thing. It worked out really well for me and it also makes for a far less stressful comp.”
Wells pipe run started out early in the fall of 2009, where he won the New Zealand Open Superpipe at Cardrona, giving him a first place lead to kick things off. Opting out of the Pure NZ Games, Jossi’s next performance was at the Winter Dew Tour Breckenridge, CO stop where he grabbed 2nd place, behind Mike Riddle of Canada. Weeks after the 2nd place in Breckenridge, Wells took home the win at the Snowbasin, UT stop of the Winter Dew Tour, over Empire teammates Simon Dumont and Peter Olenick. The following week Wells chose perfection and style in his run over technicality and double flip-mania to grab silver at Winter X Games Aspen. “To tell you the truth I really didn’t do anything special,” says Jossi. “I just had as much fun as I could and aimed for perfection over technicality Â in my runs.”
Immediately after Aspen, Jossi flew to Mt. Snow, VT for the final stop of the Winter Dew Tour where he grabbed the 5th, which wasn’t good enough to give Jossi anymore AFP points, but enough for him to grab the Winter Dew Cup for Pipe Performer of the Year. But Kevin’s failure to make finals in Vermont gave Jossi some breathing room. At Winter X Games Europe, Jossi took 6th place, but Rolland took home another X Gold, moving him within striking distance. And then the past week at Whistler is history, as neither competitor started, handily giving Wells the win.
But beyond the Wells-Rolland theater, the 2009-2010 season saw a distinct and marked jump in Superpipe riding, both technically and stylishly. More competitors wit more double flips, more competitors with more consistent amplitude and more down-to-the-wire events than ever before. “Huge shout outs to those boys, on the real,” bursts Jossi. “The level is crazy now days. I think it’s epic, it makes for an amazing show.”
And with more talent and more exposure, the big spotlight is on whether or not Superpipe skiing will be showcased in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. “I really hope it does,” says Wells. “I think it will be such a cool opertunity for us all. I mean look what it has done for snowboarding. I think it’s going to be really positive for freeskiing.”
Behind Jossi the top five on the 2009-2010 AFP Superpipe rankings were as follows: Kevin Rolland (FRA) in 2nd, Simon Dumont (USA) in 3rd. Xavier Bertoni (FRA) in 4th and Mike Riddle (CAN) in 5th. For full rankings, visit the AFP Current Rankings page here.