February 22, 2018 / 10:30 AM / 3 months ago

Olympics-Freestyle skiing-Double sweet 16 ends Kiwi drought

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea, Feb 22 (Reuters) - After waiting 26 years for a second Winter Olympics medal, New Zealand secured two bronzes in snowboarding and freestyle skiing within a few hours on Thursday.

Zoi Sadowski-Synnott and Nico Porteous, both 16, made the Winter Games podium, emulating the feat of compatriot Annelise Coberger who won silver in Alpine skiing women’s slalom in 1992.

Sadowski-Synnott produced an outstanding performance in the inaugural big air snowboarding event, recording the highest individual score of the competition.

An hour later, Porteous stood at the top of the halfpipe having watched team mate Byron Wells crash out and, overcome by nerves, he vomited.

But he was fired up by Sadowski-Synott’s performance.

“It was so sick watching her getting a bronze medal right before I was going to drop. It was a huge inspiration for me,” he told Reuters.

“It is super special and I am so proud to be a New Zealander right now. I think it is safe to say we broke the curse by getting two medals in one day,” added the teenager.

Porteous hopes the medallists can inspire a new generation of Winter Olympians from New Zealand to ensure they don’t have to wait another 26 years for more medals.

“That is one of my main goals really to inspire other people to become halfpipe skiers,” he said.

“In general, just freestyle sports – snowboarding or freestyle skiing – whatever you are doing, it is going to be so cool to see if and how many people get inspired by these Games.” (Reporting by Jack Tarrant, editing by Ed osmond)

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