23 Feb 2018

Wanaka buzzing after teens tear up slopes

6:34 pm on 23 February 2018

The town of Wanaka is buzzing after two of their own became New Zealand's first Winter Olympics medallists in 26 years.

Winter Olympic bronze medallists Sadowski-Synnott and Nico Porteous.

Winter Olympic bronze medallists Sadowski-Synnott and Nico Porteous. Photo: AFP

16-year-olds Zoi Sadowski-Synnott and Nico Porteous call Wanaka home and the pair both won bronze in their respective events yesterday.

More than 500 Mount Aspiring College pupils packed into the school's gym to watch fellow pupil, Year 13 Zoi, break New Zealand's 26-year medal drought.

Then, a few hours later, another Wanaka local, Nico Porteous, captured the country's second medal.

Today the pupils, the school, in fact the whole town, is still buzzing.

Queenstown-Lakes deputy Mayor, and Wanaka resident, Calum MacLeod summed up the mood.

"You could probably sum it up in one way and it's wahoo," he said.

"Huge for Wanaka, huge for the district and huge for New Zealand. It's fantastic. couldn't be prouder."

And Zoi's friends at Mount Aspiring felt the same way.

Mel Telford said Zoi's tight-knit group of friends were incredibly proud and ecstatic with the result.

"I was so proud of her," she said.

"Before she even went into it I knew she was going to do so well. And she trains so hard, and I so happy for her."

The win would not change her though, she said.

"It's so cool to watch Zoi from Wanaka compete against girls from all over the world and then finish up in third place," Mel said.

"It's not going to go to her head. She'll always be Zoi from Wanaka."

But while it might not change Zoi's outlook, it might affect her friends.

Alex Nyika said she was hugely proud to call Zoi a friend.

"I'm just so proud, like I don't even have the words to describe how proud I am. But it's pretty cool to be her friend," she said.

"I might put that [friend of an Olympic medallist] on my Instagram bio."

She had already spoken to Zoi via social media, but they addressed more pressing teenager issues rather than a breakdown of the Olympics.

Mount Aspiring College principal, Wayne Bosley, said while Nico did not attend the school he kept a similar circle of friends to Zoi, and it had given them twice the amount of reasons to celebrate.

"It was so exciting yesterday and people are still just buzzing," he said.

"It really made our day. That seems like such an understatement. But it's just such a special day today as well."

Zoi's presence at the school would have a massive impact on other pupils, as well as snowsports in general, Mr Bosley said.

Wanaka Ski and Snowsports Club secretary, Bonny Teat, agreed the medals would have massive ramifications for snowsports.

"The way that I look at it, I think any child that has ever been to the snow will look at this and think 'I can do that, maybe I can go to the Olympics'," she said.

She believed the country's first gold medallist would soon follow the pair's achievements and, in fact, she had her figures crossed for Carlos Garcia Knight in tomorrow night's snowboarding big air final.

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