Kiwi freeskier Nico Porteous bowled over as he joins Red Bull at age 14
Promising Wanaka freeskier Nico Porteous, 14, had no clue top Australian freeskier Russ Henshaw was playing a trick on him when he invited him on a heliski trip in the back country of Minaret Station.
Porteous thought he had been invited along to be "slave for a day" on a commercial television shoot and had already sucked up an order to keep quiet during the interview.
When Henshaw asked Porteous to dig in the snow to retrieve a helmet, he thought it was just a job he was expected to do.
Then he discovered the helmet was his own and had new branding on it - and even better than that, he was on the Red Bull team alongside his hero, Henshaw.
"Holy! It was just a complete experience in itself," Porteous said, of the emotional moment when he realised his dream of becoming a professional athlete was about to come true.
"It means the world to me. I've wanted it, ever since I started freeskiing," he said.
Porteous is the youngest New Zealand athlete in the Red Bull stable - there are 13, including Wanaka multisporter Braden Currie, Olympic sailing silver medallists Molly Meech and Alex Maloney and kayaker Ben Brown.
Porteous is one of just two 14-year-olds supported internationally by the brand. Everyone else is older.
Porteous said he had been talking to the brand for more than two years about becoming a team member but didn't expect he would met requirements until at least next year.
He recently landed the triple cork 1440 in competition at the Jossi Wells Invitational at Cardrona Alpine Resort.
It is considered one of the hardest tricks in the freeskiers' manual and Porteous is the youngest in the world to do it.
Porteous was not sure of all the sponsorship details but expected it would help him get to events and with training and skills development projects.
His goal is to compete in slopestyle and half pipe at Winter Olympics in Korea in 2017 and his qualifying campaign starts at Copper Mountain in the US in December.
Porteous was born in Hamilton and lived in Christchurch for nine years before his family moved to Perth after the earthquakes.
He and his family - mum Chris, dad Andrew, and brother Miguel, 17, - moved permanently to Wanaka in July after years of frequent visits to Cardrona, where the Porteous brothers train.
Porteous studies through Te Kura Correspondence School and, with his brother, is a Snow Sports NZ freeski team member.
He was introduced to snow at a very early age, spent five years ski racing before taking up freeskiing aged nine. He has competed at local, national and international events.