Skiing: Legendary Kiwi skier Byron Wells calls time on career

Top New Zealand freeskier Byron Wells has announced his retirement from the NZ national team.

Wells has been a regular of the Snows Sports NZ elite team for more than a decade, representing his country in slopestyle and halfpipe. 

Injuries have hampered Wells throughout his career and forced him into retirement. 

"The decision to retire was a long time coming, especially after the Olympics, hurting my knee and ending up with three surgeries on it, one of those being career-ending," Wells tells Newshub. 

"I got back on snow and had one last hurrah to see how it all went, but there was too much pain in the knee and it hurt every single day.

"It's definitely a young man's game, so it was definitely a hard decision to make, but at the end of the day, I have to look at my future and make sure I'm ok for the rest of my life."

With brothers Beau-James, Jossi and Jackson as teammates, and his father as coach, Byron set out to make his mark on the Freeski World, and that he did. 

The 28-year-old has had an impressive career, including 15 World Cups, eight Winter X Games appearances and a prestigious Dew Tour podium. He was also a member of both the 2014 and 2018 NZ Winter Olympic teams. 

"It's been a bit rough getting hurt at both Olympic Games and I was trying to come back for one more, but unfortunately my body is saying no," Wells says. "It is disappointing, but the experience of going to the Games was absolutely amazing, so I'm just trying to focus on the good times I had." 

Snow Sports NZ high performance coach Tom Willmott believes Wells should look back on his achievements fondly. 

"During his career, Byron has worn the silver fern with pride, as well as representing himself and his family with distinction," Willmott says.  

Wells’ future is bright, as he prepares for life after skiing.

"I started my helicopter license quite a few years ago,” he says. “I had a little bit of trouble, because of my injuries, getting my medical license.”

"Now that I'm all done with skiing, I'm going to be sitting my medical pretty soon and once that's all cleared away, I'll just need my remaining 15 hours to be completely qualified."