New Zealand's Winter Sports prowess is gaining momentum.

First there were Zoi Sadowski-Synnott and Nico Porteous breaking a 26-year drought with bronze medals at the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang last February; now Finn Bilous, a 19-year-old freeskier from Wanaka, has given New Zealand a second medal on the snow at the Winter Games in the Queenstown region.

Porteous won the freeski halfpipe title in the world junior championships, which were part of the Games programme.

Now Bilous has followed up with a bronze in the World Cup Big Air event at Cardrona.


And it could so easily have been a silver.

Bilous, 19, was sitting second with his combined score of 180.20, only to be bumped down a spot by the last competitor, Canadian Evan McEachran, who got to 180.4. Both trailed in Swiss competitor Andri Ragettli.

It was Winter Olympian Bilous' first World Cup medal and to say he was chuffed would be dabbbling in understatement.

"Super stoked" was his term for it, and what made it extra special was that Bilous got on the podium with a trick he'd been practising only that morning in training.

It's a forward triple cork 1440 and combined with his proficiency at his other routine, a switch triple rodeo 1440, earned him a fine reward.

"I'd been building up to it and was feeling pretty confident," he said.

"I thought I could do all right. The conditions were perfect and it was awesome to ride a perfect jump and come out on the podium."

What it also does is give Bilous a serious jolt of self belief as he heads towards another Northern Hemisphere campaign, starting at Modena, Italy at the end of next month.


The young man who won New Zealand's first Winter Youth Olympic Games medals in Oslo a couple of years ago with a halfpipe silver and slopestyle bronze, is delighted with recent news about the 2022 Winter Olympic programme in Beijing.

In 2022 it will include the men's Big Air freeski on the programme. In Korea last February, there was snowboard only off the big jump. Now it's been enlarged.

"It's a super exciting time for our sport," Bilous said.

He was in Korea, but missed a place in the slopestyle final by one spot.

"That was a bit frustrating, but I did more training and got a good result so hopefully I can keep my momentum going."

He will compete in the Jossi Wells Invitational event at Cardrona this week, take some time off combined with spring training, then it's off to Modena, where athletes will take off on a scaffold jump which will be "a bit different" he added.