Published Sunday 23 February 2014

Jossi Wells will lead the New Zealand Olympic Team into the closing ceremony of the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games.

The announcement was made today at an informal team gathering in Rosa Khutor, near the athletes' village in Sochi, Russia. 

The freeskier was New Zealand’s best performing athlete at the games, with an outstanding run in the halfpipe finals seeing him finish a whisker from the podium, in fourth place.

Chef de Mission Pete Wardell, who made the announcement, said it is never easy to choose one athlete over another but said Wells was had made New Zealand proud.

“Jossi has exhibited all those things we really like to see in an athlete at the Olympic Games. He delivered a career-best performance, overcoming disappointment in the slopestyle to put down a scintillating run in the half pipe. He’s a figure head within the team and everyone is delighted he’s going to be leading them into Olympic Games closing ceremony.”

Wells said leading the team into the packed Fisht Stadium early tomorrow morning would be a special.

 “It’s such an honour, I’m so happy,” said the delighted skier, moments after the announcement was made at an informal team gathering in Rosa Khutor.

“The Opening Ceremony just took my breath away so if it’s anything like that, leading the whole crew in there, carrying the flag will be a pretty unreal.

Wells added that he had been proud to represent New Zealand at the Olympic Games and achieve ‘redemption’ in the half pipe.

“I can’t really put it into words,” he said. “It’s been absolutely amazing, just being at the pinnacle of the sporting world. Wearing the silver fern and to have the support of the entire nation behind you has been absolutely unreal.”

“I skied the best runs of my life in the pipe and to be able to peak when it counted was unreal.”

Wardell says all the New Zealand athletes in Sochi will be marching at tomorrow morning’s closing ceremony and the athletes are looking forward to a relaxed, fun and celebratory evening.

Wells, along with the rest of the New Zealand Olympic Team will leave Sochi Monday night, most heading back to Northern Hemisphere competition.

The closing ceremony takes place NZT 0500h Monday 24 Feb (Sochi 2000h, 23 Feb).