Porteous family: ‘Amazing’ to share thrill of cheering sons on

Wanaka's Winter Olympics fan zone was a very happy place on Saturday afternoon as Nico Porteous claimed the town’s second gold medal in Beijing.

The final of the men’s freeski halfpipe final was screened live to a cheerful crowd of about 50 people inside Cardrona Basecamp.

The outdoor area was empty because of heavy rain, and a small group of fans got to sit in front of a fire with Cardrona’s pet cat, Pepsi, to watch Nico (20) and his brother Miguel (22) in Olympic action half a world away.

In an upstairs private room, a vibrant crowd of Wanaka Olympians’ families were also watching the show, their cheers and yells rivalling the enthusiasm downstairs.

After Nico’s win was confirmed, the upstairs crowd loudly sang the national anthem.

Proud parents Chris and Andrew Porteous then came downstairs to share their joy with the media and public.

Chris and Andrew Porteous at the Wanaka fan zone on Saturday. PHOTO: MARJORIE COOK
Chris and Andrew Porteous at the Wanaka fan zone on Saturday. PHOTO: MARJORIE COOK
They said it was amazing that four years of hard work and training by their sons had come down to 30 seconds in the halfpipe.

They were gutted for Miguel, who held back in his first run, scoring just 63.50, only to crash out of contention in later runs.

However, there was no shame in crashing, as many of the 12 finalists — including Nico on his third run — came to grief in the wind-affected competition, they said.

They spoke highly of their sons’ support for each other.

"Miguel is such a lovely brother ... he is always so supportive of Nico. You couldn’t ask for a nicer brother," Chris said.

They also spoke of the shock parents felt when they saw their athletes fall heavily.

Dad held his breath, while mum watched the screen carefully to see if her sons’ arms and legs were moving.

Wanaka will not get to congratulate its Olympians in person for a while. The Porteous brothers are heading for Europe this week.

The Porteous parents said if anyone else deserved a gold medal, it was their sons’ coach, Tommy Pyatt, who has worked with the brothers for more than 12 years.

"He’s sacrificed a huge amount and we could never be so thankful for what he’s had to give up to give our boys an opportunity," Chris Porteous said.

They said they had no desire to be celebrating in Beijing.

They had gone to the last Winter Olympics, in Pyeongchang, where Nico won a bronze medal in freeski halfpipe, and enjoyed that experience.

But hanging out with other athletes’ parents and friends at Cardrona Basecamp had been much nicer.

"This has been an amazing two weeks of sharing with the ski community ... the ups and downs," Andrew Porteous said.

"I had a moment of ‘it would be great to be there’ but hadn’t experienced how good the fan zone would be."

marjorie.cook@odt.co.nz

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