Byron Wells: Skier 'Devastated' by Injury Posts Poignant Sochi Photo

Image: Byron Wells: Skier 'Devastated' by Injury Posts Poignant Sochi Photo

Wednesday, 19 Feb 2014 01:54 PM

By Michael Mullins

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Byron Wells, a skier with New Zealand's Olympic Team, was forced to withdraw from Tuesday's freestyle skiing halfpipe competition after twisting his lower leg while training a few days prior. 

Having finished in fourth place in a pre-Olympic qualifier halfpipe event in February 2013, the 21-year-old suffered from an ongoing knee injury when he arrived at the Sochi Winter Games, the New Zealand Herald reported.

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"I'm completely devastated," Wells told the New Zealand Herald. "I had my sights set on a podium finish and was determined to get out there and do it. I have spoken with my medical team, my family and other members of the New Zealand Olympic Team, and have made the decision to withdraw."

Following the announcement, Wells posted a touching photo of his wheelchair draped in a Sochi 2014 blanket next to his empty bed, with the caption, "Not how I pictured this day. Devastated. Thought I would be lacing up with everyone else. Kill it for me boys."

The 21-year-old skier followed the Instagram post with a tweet later in the day thanking his fans for their support.

Wells' father and coach Bruce Wells told the New Zealand Herald that as much as he feels for his son, the Olympic athlete is well aware that the sport he chose to pursue is a high-risk one.

"They're jumping off huge walls of ice with cutting edge tricks and these are high risk," Bruce Wells said. "We're all just hugely disappointed the injury is significant enough to keep Byron from doing what he knows he can do well."

America's David Wise wound up winning Tuesday's men's freestyle skiing halfpipe competition, and in the process made history, becoming the first person to earn a gold medal in the newly created Olympic event, reported.

Canada's Mike Riddle won silver, while France's Kevin Rolland took home the bronze.

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