Kiwi Nico Porteous is fast becoming one of the best skiers in the world following his ground-breaking performance at the Winter X Games in Aspen last weekend, but his coach thinks he's still a way off his peak potential.
Porteous, a 19-year old Hamiltonian who lives in Wanaka, claimed his first gold in professional free skiing for his four-run performance in the free ski superpipe event, becoming the first free skier to ever land both his right double 1620 and the combination of a right double 1620 into a left double 1620 in a halfpipe competition.
But coach Tommy Pyatt believes we're only seeing the beginning of Porteous' potential.
"Snow athletes typically hit their peak at the age of 24, which gives Porteous roughly five more years to move towards the best version of himself," Pyatt said. "He's "definitely ahead of his time age-wise. He's still a way off that [his peak].
"He's definitely reached this point quicker than he thought he would reach it, so he's searching for what's next because we thought this was his Olympic run one year from now… there's a bit of thinking going on at the moment.
"He is switched on in the right ways; he's driven fully with one goal in mind to be the best skier he can be."
Porteous was New Zealand's youngest medalist at the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang but Pyatt, who was there in South Korea as he was in Aspen, says his latest accomplishment is "hands down" his career highlight so far.
"Obviously there was a bit more media attention around the Olympics, but for a skier the X Games is the pinnacle.
"It was definitely skiing right at the top of his level, we've spent the last three years learning those two 1620s and the last unnatural right side one still wasn't quite finished to perfection before the comp, so that was the first time he's ever landed it perfectly," Pyatt said.
"He got through the first run really easily, so then it was go for gold and hope you can land that trick. It was sort of 50/50 that he would land that trick, but he went there that night with one goal in mind of trying to do those two 16s back to back.
"He learned the one 1620, he was the first person in the world to do that, and now he's the only person with both of them so he's staying just ahead of the field which is really to his advantage right now," Pyatt said.
But just how did he get to the top? Not only was Porteous a winner from a small country that doesn't typically produce champions, he was also the youngest competitor in the field come his final four runs. The other seven had an average age of 25.8 years old.
And it was handy competition he was up against as well. Veteran David Wise who placed 5th, is a four-time X Games gold medallist as well as a two time Olympic gold medallist – including coming first in PyeongChang in 2018.
Alex Ferreira (29) came in 7th, and is also an X Games gold medallist and claimed silver at the last Winter Games.
Aaron Blunck and Birk Irving - who finished second and third - like Porteous are on the south side of 25.
"We felt really prepared [for Aspen] which we don't normally, this event was a bit different where we trained at a way closer level to competitor. So normally he would train in the half pipe and do one double cork here and there, but we'd been training all week linking two, three, four double corks," Pyatt said.
Porteous is in Aspen training at the moment without a competition to look ahead to.
"I tell you what the day after X Games when we started talking about what we had to work on next there was a lot of disappointment form Nico realising that wasn't the end result," Pyatt says while chuckling.
"But we're definitely always looking at improving that stuff. There are a few tricks in the run that are still a little bit weaker, and we want to bring them up to match the level of those 1620s."