Winter Olympics: Why Perth can claim a slice of Kiwi ski sensation Nico Porteous’ success in Beijing 2022
Pavlova, Russell Crowe and Phar Lap.
There’s been a few New Zealand-born things Australians have tried to claim over the years and ski sensation Nico Porteous is no exception.
The 20-year-old was born in Hamilton and raised between Christchurch and Perth but will be flying the Kiwi flag in the Freeski Halfpipe Final on Saturday after qualifying in the silver medal position with a score of 90.50.
It was second time lucky for the former Christ Church Grammar School student after an unpolished first run scored him only 75.50 points, something he put down to Olympic jitters.
“I put a bit of pressure on myself after that first run,” Porteous said after his second attempt.
“I didn’t quite ski the way I wanted to, missed a couple of grabs and basically got the Olympic jitters out of the way.
“I dropped in and almost crashed on the drop-in. That was pretty strange and caught me by surprise.
“In the second run, I knew I had a bit of pressure on me, so I just stuck to what I know and it paid off.”
Nico isn’t the only Porteous competing in the Winter Games, with brother Miguel, who also attended CCGS in the early 2010s, vying for a medal in the same event.
The 22-year-old qualified with a first attempt score of 81.00, putting him in ninth position going into the final.
Despite being the younger sibling, Nico is one of the nation’s best gold medal hopes, looking to improve on the bronze he earned in Pyeongchang in 2018.
While only aiming for a top 10 finish in 2018, that podium finish saw him claim the title of NZ’s youngest Olympic Games medallist at the age of 16.
Porteous will be up against US contenders Aaron Blunck, Birk Irving and David Wise in the halfpipe on Saturday, who qualified in first, third and fourth spot, respectively.
The Americans are among seven athletes from the US and Canada in the final, with Switzerland, France and Great Britain each with a sole representative alongside the Porteous brothers.
Blunck’s score of 92.00 will set him up as the final competitor to chart his run down the 220m halfpipe at Genting Snow Park.
But Porteous will go into the event, kicking off at 9.30am WST, as the gold medal favourite.
The current freeski halfpipe World Champion from Aspen in 2021, the Kiwi also claimed back-to-back X Games golds in 2021 and 2022, sending a warning shot to his rivals and announcing himself ahead of Beijing.
But perhaps what would have won over West Aussies the most is his post-competition celebration.
Porteous capped off a win at the Freeski Halfpipe World Cup earlier this year by drinking from his boot, known as a shoey, made famous by Perth Formula 1 driver Daniel Ricciardo.
If we see a shoey on the podium in Beijing, we might have to make him an honorary Sandgroper.
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