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Beijing Winter Olympics 2022: Zoi Sadowski-Synnott completes her set of medals with big air silver

Kris Shannon, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tue, 15 Feb 2022, 4:27pm

Beijing Winter Olympics 2022: Zoi Sadowski-Synnott completes her set of medals with big air silver

Kris Shannon, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tue, 15 Feb 2022, 4:27pm

In just her second Olympics Zoi Sadowski-Synnott has completed her collection of medals, but a historic second gold will have to wait. 

The snowboarding sensation has been forced to settle for silver in today's big air final in Beijing, upstaged by defending champion Anna Gasser. 

The Austrian seized gold in a breathtaking climax, becoming the first woman to land a 1260 in Olympic competition with the penultimate jump in the final. 

That left top qualifier Sadowski-Synnott with one last shot to retake the lead but, unlike in her slopestyle victory nine days ago, she was unable to respond and couldn't quite land a 1260 of her own. 

The silver medal will still sit triumphantly alongside her slopestyle gold and the bronze she claimed in big air four years ago, when Gasser first took top spot on the podium. 

Sadowski-Synnott has now claimed the majority share of all the medals New Zealand have won at the Winter Olympics, and nothing about her performance in Beijing suggested she would be stopping at three. 

The 20-year-old said yesterday that the nature of the competition meant the top riders all knew what one another's best tricks were and felt genuine joy when their rivals landed a jump that had taken countless hours of hard work. 

Zoi Sadowski-Synnott performs a trick during the women's snowboard big air final. Photo / Getty 

Standing at the top of the ramp after Gasser had stormed into the gold-medal position, any joy for Sadowski-Synnott was put on hold as she took a few deep breaths and prepared for her final action of these Games. 

But after she barely failed to land her attempt at a 1260, a jump she completed while winning double gold at the X Games last month, it was clear the Kiwi was as excited as anyone with Gasser's performance. 

The pair exchanged a couple of big hugs while the scores were confirmed, Gasser taking gold with a combined 185.50 from her two best jumps as Sadowski-Synnott consigned to silver with 177.00. 

It looked like that order would be reversed after the first two runs, with Sadowski-Synnott quickly carrying over the form that saw her take top spot in yesterday's qualifying. 

The Wānaka local watched her 11 rivals jump first and then immediately flew above them all on the leaderboard, her frontside double cork 1080 coming with huge air, a long grab and silky-smooth landing, riding away with a wave to the small Kiwi contingent in the crowd. 

Zoi Sadowski Synnott waves to the crowd. Photo / Getty 

It was the same trick that set alight qualifying, only the judges were even more impressed, the 93.25 score topping her competition-best of 91.00 yesterday. 

Only Gasser (90.00) was near Sadowski-Synnott after the first round and kept up the pressure with a backside 1080 to earn a second-round score of 86.75. 

Sadowski-Synnott soon replied to retake the lead by the finest of margins, putting down a backside 1080 that was perhaps safer but no less sleek, sneaking ahead of Gasser by a quarter of a point. 

The Austrian then showed just why she was the defending champion, as her unprecedented jump received a score of 95.50 to leave Sadowski-Synnott in need of perfection. 

That was a level the Kiwi, for once, wasn't quite able to achieve, but it will surely be a matter of when and not if Sadowski-Synnott stands atop an Olympic podium once more. 

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