22 Feb 2018

Elusive medal hunt continues for Kiwis in Pyeonchang

11:45 am on 22 February 2018

New Zealand has four genuine medal opportunities today at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.

New Zealand Freestyle skier Beau James Wells

New Zealand Freestyle skier Beau James Wells Photo: 2014 Ian MacNicol

Leading the New Zealand medal charge are the two Wells brothers and 16-year-old Nico Porteous in today's men's ski halfpipe finals.

Byron was the best of the New Zealanders in qualifying, finishing fourth behind a trio of Americans. His younger brother Beau-James was just a spot behind him in fifth after a strong finish in his second run while Porteous snuck in in 11th out of the 12 that qualified.

The final starts at 3.25pm.


New Zealand freeskier Byron Wells.

New Zealand freeskier Byron Wells. Photo: Photosport

Byron Wells was selected for the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games however the Wanaka freeskier was forced to withdraw from competition the day before his event due to a leg injury.

Learning to ski at the age of two and initially training as a ski racer, Byron soon found his true calling in the disciplines of freeski slopestyle and halfpipe.

On his return to competition post Sochi Byron posted strong results including wins at the Aspen Open halfpipe in 2015 and 2016, bronze at the Canadian Open halfpipe, bronze in slopestyle at the Rev Tour and bronze in halfpipe at the AFP World Tour finals.


New Zealand Freestyle skier Beau James Wells New Zealand Freestyle skier Beau James Wells Photo: 2014 Ian MacNicol

Beau-James Wells began skiing when he was three years old and had his sights set on becoming a professional freeskier from a young age. He began competing on the international circuit at the age of 15 and a year later (2012) was selected to represent NZ at the inaugural Youth Olympic Winter Games where he placed fourth in halfpipe.

He became Junior World Champ in halfpipe in 2014, hung onto his title in 2015 and also added a silver medal in slopestyle. In 2014 Beau-James represented New Zealand at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games placing 6th in halfpipe and 21st in slopestyle.

Beau James finished 10th in a world-class field at the Winter Games New Zealand 2017. Last year he also placed 6th at the Copper Mountain World Cup in Colorado.

Career highlights: 2nd place Dew Tour halfpipe 2015; 2015 & 2014 Freeski Halfpipe Junior World Champion; 6th in halfpipe at 2014 Olympic Winter Games


Nico Porteous.

Nico Porteous. Photo: Photosport

Nico Porteous began skiing at the age of four on a family holiday to France. With Mum, Dad and older brother Miguel already keen skiers, Nico was determined not to miss out.

By thirteen Porteous had joined his brother Miguel chasing back to back winters, training and competing in Breckenridge in the USA and Cardrona Alpine Resort in NZ, balancing his sports commitments with school work. As one of the youngest skiers on the circuit he earned the nickname 'Nipsy' but also the respect of the freeski elite.

In 2015-16 Porteous claimed wins in freeski halfpipe at the Copper Mountain Rev Tour and the Calgary NorAM, earning him the overall title in FIS Freeski Halfpipe NorAM for the season.

In 2016, at the age of fourteen, Nico became the first New Zealander and youngest person in the world to land a triple cork 1440.

Zoi Sadowski-Synnott.

Zoi Sadowksi-Synnott was bitterly disappointed with her final placing.

Zoi Sadowksi-Synnott was bitterly disappointed with her final placing. Photo: Photosport

Competing at her first Games, 16-year-old Zoi Sadowski-Synnott has made the final of the women's snowboard Big Air after finishing in fifth place during the heats.

Sadowski-Synnott produced a spectacular switch backside 900, rocketing her to the top of the standings before eventually finishing in fifth.

The 16-year-old will face stiff competition in the final but she says she's excited by it.

"At all the trainings everyone has just been going really hard, so it caused me to go really hard too.

"After slopestyle I was a bit bummed but you've got to put it in the past because it is in the past now."

Adam Barwood and Willis Feasey.

Also competing today in the men's slalom are Adam Barwood and Willis Feasey.

Barwood competed at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics in the same event, finishing in 25th place. It's Feasey's first time at the Olympics. Both men competed in this year's Giant Slalom where Barwood finished 34th while Feasey was 36th.

The first run in the men's slalom is at 6pm with the final at 9pm.