New Year Honours: Snow sports stars Zoi Sadowski-Synnott, Nico Porteous recognised after historic Beijing Winter Olympics

New Zealand's unprecedented success at the Winter Olympics has yielded New Year Honours for the pair of Zoi Sadowski-Synnott and Nico Porteous after historic gold medals on the slopes of Beijing.

The pair of 21-year-olds have both been made Members of the New Zealand Order of Merit, recognised for their contributions to snow sports.

In February, Sadowski-Synnott became the first New Zealander to win a Winter Olympics gold medal - soaring to victory in the women's slopestyle final in Beijing before adding a silver in the big air.

Nico Porteous and Zoi Sadowski-Synnott with their Winter Olympics medals.
Nico Porteous and Zoi Sadowski-Synnott with their Winter Olympics medals. Photo credit: Getty Images

Porteous, 21, emulated his teammate in Beijing with gold in the men's freeski halfpipe, as well as gold at the US Grand Prix World Cup and X Games as part of a huge 2022.

Gold medals for Sadowski-Synnott and Porteous came after the pair both took bronze in their respective events at Pyeongchang 2018.

Of the six Winter Olympics medals won in New Zealand's history, Sadowski-Synnott and Porteous hold five of them.

Despite the successes though, with Sadowski-Synnott also winning the Lonsdale Cup for 2022 - awarded to New Zealand's Olympic athlete of the year, the New Year Honour comes as a surprise.

"It was pretty crazy to even be considered for the list," Sadowski-Synnott told Newshub. "To actually get it is another thing.

"This whole year has just been absolutely crazy. It started off really, really hectic leading up to the Olympics and then after that, I had a really busy season in New Zealand.

"It was pretty hectic and I've just been getting ready for the competition next season, I just feel like all that's behind me.

Zoi Sadowski-Synnott with the New Zealand flag in Beijing.
Zoi Sadowski-Synnott with the New Zealand flag in Beijing. Photo credit: Getty Images

"To get this award now is such an honour."

Sadowski-Synnott also hailed the impact hers and Porteous' recognition will have on snow sports in New Zealand.

Annalise Coberger in 1992 is the only other New Zealander to win a Winter Olympics medal with silver, with Sadowski-Synnott and Porteous' achievements in Beijing rewriting the expectations of what Kiwis can achieve on the biggest stage.

And with a core of young stars emerging from New Zealand's winter sports programme in Wanaka, Sadowski-Synnott is hoping her honour will pave the way for future generations.

"Getting this honour is super crazy, coming from a snow sports background," she said.

"I don't think anyone has before - forgive me if I'm wrong. 

"To have that attached to your name and attached to the sport is such a huge thing for New Zealand snow sports.

"I really hope it inspires other people to pick up the sport, and know there's a pathway to have representation in that way.

"It inspires me to be better so that I feel like I deserve that award as well."