Sharing Lunch With …… OOE’s Noah Porter MacLennan

Mainstreeter Staff


Meet Canada’s newest star in the Big Air skies

To say that Noah Porter MacLennan’s recent World Cup silver medal
at the opening Big Air freestyle skiing competition in Chur, Switzerland
was a shocker is to drastically understate the facts. One international
freestyle blogger reported Porter MacLennan’s medal-winning result with
the comment “me neither,” as in “I’ve never heard of him, either.” For the
19-year-old Old Ottawa East resident who is primed to be our community’s
next Olympic athlete, the breakthrough World Cup result was more
“surreal” than surprising.

We conducted this Sharing Lunch With interview with Porter
MacLennan seated at his kitchen table at the family home on Rideau
Garden Drive, the Rideau River just steps away. It was a setting that the
young member of Canada’s men’s national freestyle skiing team described
as one that keeps his life in balance, particularly these days as he adjusts to
his first recent brush with international sports super-stardom.

The Mainstreeter: Noah, your breakout silver medal performance in late October at the opening World Cup competition in Chur, Switzerland, left many people asking “Who is Noah Porter MacLennan and where did he come from?” Part of the answer is Old Ottawa East, the community where you grew up and still reside. So, let’s begin by answering the question in full: Who is Noah Porter MacLennan?

OOE resident Noah Porter MacLennan,19, is a World Cup freestyle skiing sensation who is already on track to compete for Canada at the 2026 Winter Olympics in Italy.  Photo by Gary Yee

OOE resident Noah Porter MacLennan,19, is a World Cup freestyle skiing sensation who is already on track to compete for Canada at the 2026 Winter Olympics in Italy. Photo by Gary Yee

Porter MacLennan: Well, I was born in 2003, so I’m 19-years-old. I went to Hopewell Avenue Public School from junior kindergarten right up until grade eight, and from there I went to high school at Glebe Collegiate Institute. I have indeed lived my entire life in Old Ottawa East. Our home on Rideau Garden Drive backs on the river, so I was really an outdoors kid. When I was young, I would climb the neighbourhood trees and go down to the river from our backyard to hunt for frogs. I grew up playing recreational football. I skied at Mont Tremblant on the weekends, starting from when I was very young at the age of 2. I began branching off from your average downhill skiing to serious freestyle skiing when I was around nine years old, and I kept progressing. By the time I was in high school, I was already on the Ontario provincial team. By the end of grade 10, I had made the Canadian men’s national freestyle skiing team.

The Mainstreeter: For those who may never have witnessed freestyle skiing, how does your sport differ from conventional downhill skiing?

Porter MacLennan: Downhill skiing for the average person means just putting on your skis and making turns as you ski your way down the run. Then you get on the chairlift, go back up to the top and do it again. With freestyle skiing, by comparison, you ski in what we call a terrain park, where there are multiple different features, rails that you can slide along with your skis or a box that you can slide on and off with your skis, and there’s also jumps mixed in along the way.

Porter MacLennan is pictured here riding the rails up at Mont Tremblant  Photo by Gary Yee

Porter MacLennan is pictured here riding the rails up at Mont Tremblant Photo by Gary Yee

The Mainstreeter: What was it that caused you to branch out into freestyle skiing at such an early age? Porter MacLennan: Oddly enough, it really happened on one specific run. Our family was on a ski vacation at Panorama, B.C. I was probably six years old at the time. My dad thought I was good enough to take me through a terrain park. I remember taking one run through the park and I didn’t want to stop or do any other kind of ski run after that. It just stuck with me for some reason, and I got hooked. I pretty much started doing jumps and tricks as a six-year-old, just having a lot of fun. I kept getting better and by the time I turned seven, I was enrolled in a freestyle program at Mont Tremblant with a coach and a bunch of other freestyle skiers, and we would spend all day skiing in the terrain park. I learned slowly at the start with just 180 degree turns, then 360s and 540s, and then front flips and back flips and a bunch of other aerial tricks – it just kind of built from there. I started competing at a young age, doing local competitions. I did well at those, and I just kept competing at slightly higher-level competitions, regional and then provincial level events. Once I started dominating the provincial circuit,I moved on to national level competitions, and from there to North American competitions and finally to where I am now at international and World Cup competitions.


“By the end of grade 10,
I had made the Canadian
men’s national freestyle
skiing team…”

The Mainstreeter: And you have reached a pinnacle of sorts as a member of Canada’s national freestyle skiing team. What’s that been like for you?

Porter MacLennan: The Canadian national freestyle skiing team is a very cool and a very professional team. We have about 15 members on the team, men and women, from all over the country. This is my third season on the Canadian national team. Each of the other two seasons have been cut short by injury. My first season was 2019, and I got about halfway through it. I think I did three World Cup events that year, and then I tore the ACL in my knee, and I was out for about a year. I managed to get back on skis for the rest of the 2020 season. I had a good preseason in 2021, and I then did my first competition since the ACL tear. It was at Steamboat Springs, Colorado. But then I broke my wrist in a non-skiing accident, and by the time I was healed up and ready to go again, the season was over. So I continued to train and then pretty much did that whole cycle again for the upcoming 2022 season. I went to the first competition of this year last weekend in Chur, Switzerland, and I did really well.

The Mainstreeter: Tell us a little more about that amazing competition in Chur. How did it feel to reach the podium and break into the top ranks of World Cup competition?

Porter MacLennan: This one was a Big Air competition with jumps at a big hill built right in the middle of the city of Chur, Switzerland. We had two days of practice prior to qualifications, and we roughly got around 10 jumps each day, so 20 practice jumps in total. Then we all moved on to the day of qualification to get into the finals. We had about an hour of practice, and I did five jumps. Then, during qualifications, you get only two jumps, and you must land one of them, and they take your best jump score. So, I did my two jumps, and they both earned the exact same score, which is kind of rare, but it was cool at the same time. There are 25 competitors in each of the two heats, so 50 people in total all trying to qualify. They took the top five scores from each of the two heats, so 10 jumpers make the finals later that evening. I qualified fourth in my heat, which got me into the finals. For the finals, we had about an hour of training, and then we got three tries to land two jumps cleanly.

The Mainstreeter: According to the news reports, you landed all three of your jumps and you moved into second place overall on your third and final jump just edging out American and Swiss competitors who placed third and fourth. In fact, the only competitor who placed ahead of you was the Olympic gold medal winner from the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, Burk Ruud of Norway. Even you must have been shocked by what you had done!

Porter MacLennan: Really, it was pretty surreal. There were around 35,000 people attending on the Friday night that we competed. It was a first for me – never have I ever competed in front of that many people. It was definitely a very cool experience to say the least. It was like a big party over there.
Because of my injuries, it was only my second World Cup competition over the past two years. My expectations were higher than usual because of how much I had trained and what I knew I was capable of. But I definitely didn’t have any expectations that I would get onto the podium. So, I was incredibly happy to do that.

The Mainstreeter: And now with a World Cup silver medal already in your back pocket, you must really be looking forward to the rest of the season and maybe even beyond to the Winter Olympics in 2026, since Slopestyle and Big Air skiing are both Olympic events.

Porter MacLennan: For sure, I am most definitely looking forward to this coming season, because I had such a good finish in Switzerland. I’m a little nervous because of how good of a finish it really was, since it kind of changes your expectations a bit, and those of others as well. But then you don’t want to be too hard on yourself. I am really looking forward, for sure, to competing in the 2026 Winter Olympics in Italy – that’s definitely a major goal for me down the road.
My main goal this season is to upgrade my own ranking within the Canadian national team. We’re all considered Team Canada, but internal to the team we have three rankings, A, B and C. The men rated A and B are the official World Cup team, while those ranked C, like me, are the Next Gen team for Canada. For me to qualify for our World Cup team, I have to get three good results, like the one I got in Switzerland. The way it works is that for every World Cup sanctioned competition, Canada gets a number of designated entry spots. For the competition in Switzerland, I believe Canada was given five spots. The spots go to the World Cup team first, and it depends on whether those athletes can go, if they’re not injured, or whatnot. And if there’s leftover spots, they pick whoever is strongest in training from the Next Gen group to get the remaining spot. That’s how I got my chance in Switzerland.

The Mainstreeter: Who were the Canadian or international freestyle skiers that you looked up to as a teenager? What was it like meeting and competing with them as a teenager when you started out on the national team?

Porter MacLennan: Yes, that was the case when I made the Canadian team, and there were a bunch of big names that I had looked up to my whole life, and now they’re just considered my teammates. It was a pretty crazy feeling for sure. Now it’s gotten to the point where they’re just friends, which is pretty cool. I looked up to Evan McEachran and Teale Harle and Alex Bilodeau. They were a huge inspiration for me. And everyone on the national team was very accepting of me and very inclusive. And even though it’s asolo person sport, it still feels like a team environment because everyone wants you to do as well as you can – it’s always so supportive, and everyone is so proud of you for anything you’ve accomplished during the journey.


“…every time that I learn
something new, it’s a
very scary experience.”

The Mainstreeter: Your sport is one where you’re always pushing the envelope to do that one extra rotation or that one extra flip – to the point where you’re getting into some pretty dangerous stuff. How do you deal with that? Do you worry about getting hurt or is that something you don’t even think about in your sport?

A first-ever World Cup podium finish for Porter MacLennan (left), along with Olympic gold medalist Burk Ruud of Norway and 3rd place finisher Troy Podmilsak of the USA. Photo by Gary Yee

A first-ever World Cup podium finish for Porter MacLennan (left), along with Olympic gold medalist Burk Ruud of Norway and 3rd place finisher Troy Podmilsak of the USA. Photo by Gary Yee

Porter MacLennan: Well, we do have tools that we can use that aid us in not getting hurt. We have these big plastic ramps that you jump off and you land on a huge airbag that’s on an incline down the mountain. We go down the ramp with our skis and we do our tricks, and we can land on our sides or on our backs, no matter what position, you won’t get hurt. That’s where we learn a lot of our tricks, so when we get on snow, we have managed to minimize a lot of the risk of hurting ourselves.
But every time I learn something new, it’s a very scary experience. I’m not sure what the difference is between experiencing a light degree of fear and feeling nervous in competition. I feel like both feelings kind of go hand in hand, and that they are pretty similar. And I definitely have a mixture of both. Because no matter how many times you practice a trick on a plastic ramp and an airbag, when you do it on snow and ice for the first time, you’re still gonna be super, super nervous and scared.

The Mainstreeter: Noah, by the time this interview is published you will have completed your next World Cup competition in Austria. Tell me about what the next few weeks will hold for you?

Porter MacLennan: This competition coming up is actually a Slopestyle event in Austria. The hill is called Stubai Glacier and it’s about an hour outside of Innsbruck. It’s my first time going there. I believe Canada was sanctioned for six spots for this competition. There are four guys on the World Cup team who are going, which left two spots open for the Next Gen group and I was fortunate enough to get one of them. We’re going there about a week before the competition, then competing and staying a week after to train. There are five to six Slopestyle World Cup competitions this year and two Big Air competitions. A couple of them are in North America, a Slopestyle event at Mammoth Mountain in California and a Big Air competition at Copper Mountain in Colorado.

The Mainstreeter: Let’s go from Austria and California back to this community of Old Ottawa East for a moment. After making headlines in Switzerland, here you are back at your kitchen table in Old Ottawa East. What does spending time in this community mean to you in the middle of a World Cup season?

Porter MacLennan: There’s nothing more that I would want to do than come home after being in Europe for two or three weeks of training and an intensetime competing. Just being able to come back to the comfort of my own home, with my boat in the garage that I take out on the Rideau River all the time – it gives me back my balance. It’s like normal life again, for a bit. It’s so beautiful to come back to a home that’s so comforting in a neighborhood that’s so beautiful.

The Mainstreeter: And you get to reunite with your parents and your sister. Obviously, since you started at two years of age, they must have had a big role to play in your skiiing.

Porter MacLennan at ease on the Rideau River with a catch and release walleye. Photo Supplied

Porter MacLennan at ease on the Rideau River with a catch and release walleye. Photo Supplied

Porter MacLennan: You bet. My mom’s the ski nut of the family, for sure. She loves downhill skiing. We have a condo at Mont Tremblant, and we would go up there every weekend to ski. That’s how my sister Jessie and I got introduced to skiing. Jessie is two years older than me, and she has become a snowboard instructor. I still think my mom likes skiing more than I do. No matter how cold it is, she’ll be up there skiing on the weekends. My dad was there every weekend as well when I was growing up. He would always push me to try new stuff, tricks and stuff, and give me little rewards when I succeeded, which was motivation for me.

The Mainstreeter: And when you are back home in Old Ottawa East, what kindof stuff do you like to do when you’re not doing the stuff you have to do? For example, you mentioned that you have your own boat.

Porter MacLennan: That’s an easy one – fishing! It’s hard for me to compare freestyle skiing and fishing together because one has turned into my job and the other one is my hobby. But there’s no question – a key passion is definitely fishing. I have also fished since I was six years old. I love fishing more than almost anything else in the world because I just get out there alone in my boat. My mind is clear. I’m focused on only one goal, which is trying to catch fish. I love to cast my line and target small-mouth bass in the Rideau River. There’s nothing else like it.

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