Sam Wells, dubbed the quiet achiever, is in a very good place personally and in her sport.
A self-acknowledged ‘busy’ person, Wells combines training with a final year of her Bachelor of Health Science degree, holds a Level 4 Certificate in fitness and is an accomplished cook who raises funds for the Cancer Council through her Biggest Morning Teas.
With one Olympics and three World Cup medals under her Flying Kangaroo belt, Wells wants more.
“Medals are a tick, but the gold one is on the to do list. I’ve got a silver and two bronzes. I want to stand on the top,” she said from Park City in Utah.
“I’ve been doing a lot of things in my training, which started at Lilydale in April (in Victoria) and we’ve been working on both of my triple twisting doubles.”
“As sub-par as Lilydale may seem, it was a bonus for me. We worked on the single and spent a ton of time on doubles on the bungy. In twenty-minutes I can punch out 40 or 50 doubles and then transfer that to the ramps.”
“Being able to get the reps on the bungy has been a real secret weapon for me.”
“In Park City, I have been able to transfer all the things I worked on from Lilydale and it’s been a much smoother transition,” she said.
By the end of July Wells was up to her full degree of difficulty (DD) and improving her form in the air.
“Our competition is based on consistency. For me to jump DD consistently is important. On my double in last year I was having difficulty keep my feet together so I’ve been working on that. The water ramps are helping me find the correct prompts and cues.”
Water ramping for Aerial skiers is a complicated business and not for the faint-hearted. The Flying Kangaroos complete approximately nine jumps per session into the pool at Park City, which requires the ability to swim with skis on.
“With a life jacket and boots that float it’s not that hard. You tuck your heels up so the skis are on the top of the water and get good at breaststroke,” Wells explained.
“I weigh a lot more with my gear on. About 10 to 15kgs more than when I’m dry. I always think at training that walking up the stairs is the hardest part of the day but it’s good for our fitness too. Especially at altitude.”
“I chose to study it because it’s in the field I’m interested in. There are three subjects to go. Two this semester and one after the Olympics.”
Athletes who compartmentalise their training often have other interests. Study and utilising time productively is key for the Newcastle native.
“You have to give your brain a rest sometimes,” she says when asked about training only. “I’d go mad otherwise.”
“Pursuing other goals gives me a sense of satisfaction, which helps me to be diligent and focused about my sport and more and not get burnt out thinking about Aerials all the time.”
Wells also achieved a Certificate 4 in Fitness last year, which she added to her Certificate for Hospitality, “just to add to the repertoire”.
For the third year Sam has hosted a Biggest Morning Tea after her interest in the project was sparked when she volunteered at the Cancer Council as part of her university course.
“This year’s spread was pretty good and I raised over $600. I plan on doing it forever. It’s amazing the difference the funds can do to make someone’s life a little better.
“I love making stuff. It doesn’t matter what it is. I like the challenge of seeing something from start to finish.”
Team dinners on Sam’s watch always means something different.
“We have to submit our meals for team camps but usually it’s, ‘Yay – Sam’s cooking’. There may be old favourites but I like to experiment every time.”
Recent meals for the team have included lemon, balsamic and ginger chicken burgers with charred corn capsicum and tomato and a mouth-watering rice noodle salad with pork sate patties.
Danielle Scott is more than happy to hand over the apron.
“Cooking is like an art for Sam and she is the winner in the chef department. She definitely loves to cook and we just like to get fed,” Scott said.
Wells attributes her culinary skills to her family.
“My mum is great cook, and her mum is a great cook. It’s about learning new skills and the mastery of the challenge,” she said.
There’s no idle hands or an idle mind in the Wells’ household it seems - from making curtains, moccasins, hand sewing or a macramé wall hanging.
“Sewing and craft are high on my list. I love being genuinely busy and good at stuff.”
It’s ten years since Sam Wells has lived at home on the shores of Lake Macquarie in NSW but she will be home in mid-October for a short holiday, but if you want to keep up with this high achiever, you’d want to be up early.
By Belinda Noonan