New Zealand’s Zoi Sadowski-Synnott threw down a monster run in the clutch Sunday at the Olympic women’s slopestyle final in Beijing to capture the first-ever gold medal for her country in the Winter Olympics.
The 20-year-old Sadowski-Synnott, who won big air bronze in 2018, has two of New Zealand’s four medals overall in the Winter Games. She came into Beijing carrying some momentum after winning X Games gold in January in both big air and slopestyle, where she became the first woman to land back-to-back double cork 1080s in a slopestyle run.
“Honestly it feels unreal – I’m just super proud of where my snowboarding has come in the last four years and super proud to be here and show the world what Kiwis are made of,” said Sadowski-Synnott, who earned a 92.88 on her third run as the final competitor of the day at the Genting Snow Park.
She earned the first medal of the Games with her giant amplitude, landing a switch backside 900 off the left side “twisted sister” jump, followed by a frontside double cork 1080 and a giant backside 1080 of the final Great Wall feature to overtake American Julia Marino.
“I had a pretty crazy mindset going into my last run, but I knew that I had to put down the run I put down at X Games to win gold,” she said. “I just took everything I had in me to try to land it and going into that last jump I knew I was going way too fast so in the air I was like, ‘Land. Do anything you can to land,’ and I’m so stoked I did.”
Marino, the 24-year-old from Connecticut making her second Olympic appearance, recorded an 87.68 in her second run and hung on to claim silver, while Australia’s Tess Coady won bronze with an 84.15 in her final run.
“It’s a run I’ve been wanting to put down for a long time, and this season I haven’t gotten to put that one down and to do it here, just means a whole lot different than anything else and I’m so over the moon to have landed that top to bottom,” Marino told NBC Olympics reporter Randy Moss regarding her medal-winning run, where she landed a backside 900, a cab double underflip 900 and a frontside double cork 1080.
American Jamie Anderson, 31, fell short in her bid to become the first snowboarder to win three straight Olympic medals in any event, making mistakes in all three runs. She finished ninth overall.
“Not this time,” Anderson was heard saying as she embraced Marino in the finish area. She’ll get another medal opportunity in big air, where she’s the defending silver medalist.
American Hailey Langland also made the slopestyle finals in her second Olympics appearance and finished 11th.
Upon receiving Sadowski-Synnott’s results from the judges, an ecstatic Marino and Coady tackled the champion to the snow, followed by a rare site in most individual competitions: a jumping group hug with all the finalists.
WOMEN SUPPORTING WOMEN!!!!!
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Sadowski-Synnott said she hopes the performance “will inspire young kids – and anyone – to take up snowboard because I think it’s the funnest sport ever.”
All three slopestyle medalists are also expected to contend in big air, which begins with qualification on Feb. 14 (the night of Feb. 13 in the U.S.).
On Her Turf editor Alex Azzi contributed to this report.