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Winter Olympics Wrap

From Alpine and Freestyle to Cross-Country Skiing. Biathlon, Luge and Snowboarding – we’ve sure seen and learnt a lot this (Northern Hemisphere) Winter.

Then, take a couple of Kiwi teenagers and mix in some hefty amounts of dedication, resilience, a plane ride to Pyeongchang and … NZ Olympic history is made!

And, you know we’re going to claim them as homemade, right here in Central Otago. Cheers to Nico Porteous and Zoi Sadowski-Synnott, two 16-year-olds from a little corner in the world that are making waves on the global stage.

Nico Porteous

Nico Porteous is New Zealand’s youngest ever Olympic medallist. Last week, he was still relatively unknown but Thursday morning saw this talent carving it up in the men’s ski halfpipe finals. Raised on Wanaka/Queenstown’s fresh powder, Nico started on the slopes at age two. That’s right. At two years old, this prodigy was probably doing more physical exercise than I can do as a grown adult.

This talented teen achieved his dream of repping Team NZ on the world stage, scoring a crazy  94.80 out of 100 on his second run and winning the Bronze medal. He performed five double corks. Have you ever seen five double corks? Well, I don’t know the science – but it doesn’t look easy. It looks like 14 years of blood, sweat and tears hard.

The Porteous family were there to Snap, ‘Gram, Tweet and, most importantly, support Nico’s memorable achievement.

Despite this ‘OMG’, jaw-dropping, life-changing win, Nico’s Kiwi roots came through with the ever-apparent ‘Tall Poppy Syndrome’ kicking in. Nico’s post-win interview –  “I wasn’t really thinking about the medals, I was so happy with how I skied. Even if I didn’t get a medal, I would be so stoked. But getting that bronze has really put the icing on the cake.” Bless.

Nico is just the tip of the mountain. He is one of the many talents breaking out of the Wanaka/Queenstown snow scene.

Zoi Sadowski-Synnott

Alright Australia, let’s settle this before it gets out of hand like the Pavlova debacle or the great Russell Crowe debate. 16-year-old Snowboarder Zoi Sadowski-Synnott is ours.  

“Yeah, New Zealand is home, I am definitely a Kiwi. I was born in Sydney and moved to Wanaka when I was six so I am definitely a Kiwi. Dad is a Kiwi, so yeah.”, says Zoi. Straight from the Kiwis mouth, capeesh?

Zoi flipped into New Zealand’s Olympic record books with her signature move; a double wildcat. And yes, it is as epic as it sounds. A double wildcat is a double back-flip on a cartwheel axis, then followed up by a switchback 900 leaving the boarder spinning into the big air galaxy. In Zoi’s case, it resulted in landing as a medal winner.

Bring on Beijing, China 2022 for the next Winter Games and the Otago talent that will represent. 

words by chris lee


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