Sadowski Synnott gets New Zealand’s 1st Winter Olympic gold

Feb 5, 2022, 5:20 AM | Updated: 8:47 pm

New Zealand's Zoi Sadowski Synnott competes during the women's slopestyle finals at the 2022 Winter...

New Zealand's Zoi Sadowski Synnott competes during the women's slopestyle finals at the 2022 Winter Olympics, Sunday, Feb. 6, 2022, in Zhangjiakou, China. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

(AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

ZHANGJIAKOU, China (AP) — Zoi Sadowski Synnott captured New Zealand’s first gold medal in Winter Olympic history, stomping down a pressure-packed run on her last trip down the mountain Sunday to win the title in women’s slopestyle.

The 20-year-old attacked the supersized course with a challenging, progressive run built for 2022 despite hardpacked snow and bone-cold wind chills that made things difficult on most of the 12 finalists. That included two-time defending champion Jamie Anderson, who finished ninth.

Sadowski Synnott went into her last of three runs trailing American Julia Marino but came up big.

“Greatest run of my life,” she said.

She landed a double-cork 1080 on the second-to-last jump, including a solid grab of the middle of the board that she held for more than long enough for the judges to see clearly. And then she repeated the double cork in a different direction, the way she did in her victory at the Winter X Games last month when she became the first woman to pull it off.

She raised her hands in the air after landing, knowing what she’d done. Marino, who won silver, and third-place finisher Tess Coady of Australia knew it, too. They tackled her at the finish line to celebrate.

“Pretty sick,” Sadowski Synnott said of the reaction.

A few minutes later, the scoreboard confirmed the outcome, and New Zealand had its first Winter Games victory — brought home by an Australian-born shredder with an American mother and a Kiwi father. They moved to Wanaka, New Zealand, when Zoi was 6.

For the second straight Olympics, this was not a top-to-bottom display of the finest women’s snowboarding action. In Pyeongchang four years ago, a harsh, shifting wind turned the contest into a demolition derby.

Of the 36 runs on Sunday, 25 were aborted either because of falls or speed issues that made the hardest tricks too risky to attempt. But the top riders came through big despite the rock-hard snowpack and a wind chill of minus-13 (minus-25 Celsius) at the start of the contest.

“It kind of looked like no one had done anything for four years last time,” Coady said. “So it was pretty sweet to just, you know, just like, show everyone how far we’ve come.”

Anderson, an American, came away with her second gold in 2018 despite using tricks that were far from state of the art. In this one, though, she never got her bearings. She fell on two runs and pulled out of a jump in the middle of her second.

“I feel so sad not to be able to put down a run,” Anderson said. “But I feel relieved that it’s over because it’s a really high-stress week here.”

Sadowski Synnott’s winning score of 92.88 was the only mark over 90.

It was only two weekends ago in perfect conditions in Aspen, Colorado, that Sadowski Synnott became the first woman to land back-to-back double cork 1080s as part of her gold-medal performance. She won big air, as well, and will have the chance to do the same at the Olympics — that contest is set for Feb. 15. She won Olympic bronze in that event four years ago.

For now, though, there’s plenty to celebrate in New Zealand, which long has served as a training base for riders in the Northern Hemisphere who need to get work in during June, July and August.

So, yes, it has snow, and halfpipes, and mountain resorts. And now, a gold medal, too.

“Absolute disbelief,” Sadowski Synnott said. “It probably means more to me to win New Zealand’s first winter gold.”


More AP Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/winter-olympics and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Associated Press

Ex-Packer Guion gets 1 year for domestic violence assault

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Former Green Bay Packers defensive tackle Letroy Guion was sentenced to one year in jail after pleading no contest in a domestic violence assault at his home last fall. Brown County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Walsh also ordered Guion on Tuesday to serve three years’ probation and complete a domestic […]

1 year ago

Joe Jarzynka...

Associated Press

Durant eager for Suns debut vs. Hornets after knee injury

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Kevin Durant has been through quite a bit during his 15-year NBA career — but joining a new team midway through the season is a new one for the 13-time All-Star. The 34-year-old Durant doesn’t seem all that worried. Durant makes his highly anticipated Phoenix Suns debut on Wednesday night against […]

1 year ago

FILE - Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores stands on the sideline during the second half of an N...

Associated Press

Judge: NFL coach can press discrimination claims in court

NEW YORK (AP) — NFL Coach Brian Flores can pursue some of his discrimination claims against the league and its teams in court rather than through arbitration, a judge ruled Wednesday. The written decision by Judge Valerie Caproni in Manhattan was issued months after lawyers for the league tried to get the lawsuit moved to […]

1 year ago

Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Alex Stalock cools off in the first period during an NHL hockey game ...

Associated Press

Kane trade reinforces hard reality of Blackhawks rebuild

CHICAGO (AP) — After days of speculation, the harsh reality of the Chicago Blackhawks’ situation was reinforced by one move in a flurry of transactions ahead of the NHL trade deadline. Showtime is over, at least in Chicago, and a seemingly bright future is, well, way off in the distance. The reverberations of Chicago’s decision […]

1 year ago

FILE -  Yves Jean-Bart, president of the Haitian Football Federation, wearing a protective face mas...

Associated Press

Disgraced ex-Haitian soccer president announces he’s back

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Haiti’s former soccer federation president whose lifetime ban from sport over sexual abuse allegations was overturned last month announced Wednesday that he is reclaiming his position. Yves Jean-Bart’s defiant announcement could lead to a standoff with FIFA, which already has appointed an emergency management committee to lead the Haitian Football Association […]

1 year ago

FILE - Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers walks off the field after an NFL football game against the ...

Associated Press

Rodgers says decision on future will come ‘soon enough’

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Aaron Rodgers says he will make a decision on his future “soon enough” as the four-time MVP quarterback ponders whether to play next season and if his future remains with the Green Bay Packers. Rodgers, 39, discussed his future while speaking on an episode of the “Aubrey Marcus Podcast” that […]

1 year ago

Sadowski Synnott gets New Zealand’s 1st Winter Olympic gold