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Nico Porteous on This is Kiwi (Image: Supplied)
Nico Porteous on This is Kiwi (Image: Supplied)

PartnersFebruary 22, 2024

Nico Porteous on the process of performance

Nico Porteous on This is Kiwi (Image: Supplied)
Nico Porteous on This is Kiwi (Image: Supplied)

In the fifth episode of season two of Kiwibank’s This is Kiwi podcast, Olympic gold medal-winning freestyle skier Nico Porteous talks about how he deals with the pressures of his career.

This is Kiwi podcast is brought to you by Kiwibank and The Spinoff Podcast network. Subscribe and download This is Kiwi wherever you get your podcasts so you don’t miss an episode.

In 2018, Nico Porteous became New Zealand’s youngest ever Olympic medallist when at just 16 years old he took out bronze in the men’s freeski halfpipe. Then, four years later, he eclipsed that effort, clinching the gold in Beijing. 

Now 22, Porteous’s list of achievements is long – including a New Zealand Order of Merit for services to snow sports, Halberg Sportsman of the year 2023, and a recent silver at the Aspen X Games in February.

Porteous was just six when he took part in his first skiing competition. He remembers the overwhelming nerves, which he says still linger when he competes now.

“I’ve learnt to really manage it, through working with sports psychologists and growing up and maturing and being able to really control those quite strong emotions. But yeah, I still get really nervous,” he admits.

Despite having competed since he was young, Porteous says his life isn’t all about skiing, and getting a good balance of sport and leisure and family time helps him to succeed on the slopes.

“Balance is really, really key. Having that time to step away and to not be fully focused and fully serious, but then also being able to completely rein it in and be focused when that counts,” Porteous says.


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An injury after his successful 2022 Olympic campaign forced Porteous out of the sport to rehabilitate for 12 months, and during this time, he says he focused on leaning into other things that brought him joy. 

“A lot of the time people say that rehab is the worst thing that’s ever happened in their life. But for me, that was honestly one of the better things that’s ever happened to me, because it gave me a break in my head and time to develop and mature and all that sort of stuff that 21-year-olds go through.”

As a professional athlete, Porteous’s job, and thus pay, is also different from most other people in their early-20s, who may be studying or in the beginnings of their career. Prize money from winning competitions isn’t guaranteed, but Porteous is grateful for sponsorship from brands and help from Snowsports New Zealand that allow him to travel and compete. 

“It’s not like skiing is going to support me for the rest of my life. It’s in no way going to do that. But just having a little bit saved up to have that little bit of a head start is good,” he says. 

“The goal is there of wanting to start a family and have kids… those are things you have to think about. And it’s about taking the right steps to make sure that future is possible.” 

While money wasn’t talked about much in the Porteous household growing up, he says it was instilled in him that money wasn’t everything. But skiing, especially at the level he competed, isn’t a cheap sport.

“I knew in the back of my mind that, OK, my parents are working so hard for me to be able to chase my dream. I have to give them everything that I’ve got. I have to do as much as I can to make the investment worthwhile and show them that I’m worthy of that,” he says.

Now, with a collection of medals from world events, Porteous has well and truly proven his worth on the slopes, and while he’s aware of the relatively short-term career of a professional skier, he says he’s blessed to be able to pursue his greatest passion on the world stage.

“I just have such a passion for skiing and absolutely love what I do. And so I think that’s really allowed me to just enjoy it and get to achieve my biggest goals.”

The fifth episode of season two of This is Kiwi is out now. Subscribe and download wherever you get your podcasts.

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