Former Ngāhinapōuri resident Chloe McMillan, 21, has been selected for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, China, scheduled to take place from February 4 until February 20.
McMillan and Matamata's Anja Barugh, both freeskiers, will appear at their first Winter Olympics, a rarity for people from the snow-free Waikato.
The pair are among eight new additions to the Kiwi Winter Olympic team.
"We don't come from Wānaka, we don't come from a ski town. Both being qualified for the Games is awesome because it goes to show you don't need to be from a ski town," says McMillan.
"A lot of people have given me crap about growing up in Hamilton, but it is hands down the most beautiful place on the planet. I actually grew up in a little town called Ngāhinapōuri. Then we moved to town and were out in the fields. It's so beautiful.
"I think the best thing about Hamilton is you're close to everything. Close to Auckland and you can go to Raglan and surf. We had a beach house at the Mount and then we're two hours away from Ruapehu."
The former St Peter's School student is also passionate about increasing female interest in the sport.
"There's such little amount of girls in the sport and it just it comes down to the fact that we have such a high-risk sport. It's not something you can go out and do without worrying too much about injuring anything.
"As a female, there are so many risk factors that go through your head. And so girls will go 'oh, you know, that's so scary. That's terrifying'. So pushing women to learn that it's actually getting comfortable and taking the time and it will get easier and it will be less scary," said McMillan.
"I genuinely hope that other girls in New Zealand watch this no matter where they're from, even if they've only skied at Ruapehu two days and be like 'cool, I could do it as well'."
McMillan's parents, Tamahere-based Ross and Sally, are incredibly proud of what she has achieved.
They say that she has always been a very determined young woman, who punches well above her weight.
"Chloe fully deserves to be selected after all the hard effort and training she has put in over the last few years, especially as she has gone through a few injuries and surgeries, being such a high-risk sport," says Ross.
"She had her first set of plastic skis at the age of 5, and has skied ever since due to Sally and I being keen skiers, spending many weekends at Ruapehu in the ski season, but didn't take the sport up seriously until she relocated to Wānaka for her Year 13 - where she could train in the half-pipe at Cadrona.
"What prompted her to consider taking it to the next step was winning the North Island Secondary Schools Free-ski champs in Year 10 and Year 12, then going on to compete in the National Champs in Wānaka and realising she was up there with the South Island girls."
McMillan finished fourth at the 2019 FIS Halfpipe event at Copper Mountain, Colorado and 14th at the 2021 FIS Freeski World Championships.
Over the past two summers she has been based in North America and Europe, training and competing in competitions, with great results against some of the best skiers on the planet.
She says that there's just something about being outside on the mountain every day that she loves, as well as pushing herself outside of her comfort zone.
"When I was 15, some friends convinced me to join the freestyle squad at Ruapehu, and I had the best season with the most awesome group of guys and coaches who made me absolutely fall in love with the sport. I wouldn't be where I am today without them pushing me, motivating me that year," says McMillan.
"Do what you love and love what you do. Figure out your passion and pursue it. You can make anything happen if you want it enough."