In February, all eyes were on 16-year-old Zoi Sadowski-Synnott as she became New Zealand’s first Winter Olympic medallist in 26 years, claiming a bronze medal in women’s big air.
We had a chat to the young Cardrona team rider about her career so far, & her hopes for the future.
Name: Zoi Sadowski-Synnott
Started snowboarding age: 8 or 9
Disciplines: Slopestyle & Big Air
Sponsors: Red Bull, Von Zipper, Nitro, Union, Rad Gloves, Cardrona Alpine Resort
Favourite trick: Front 3 or back 1
Tell us about your earliest childhood memories of snowboarding in Wanaka:
I went for a lesson up Snow Park NZ with my sister during night riding & that was probably my earliest memory.
What’s the scariest thing that’s ever happened to you on the snow?
I caught toes on the take-off of a front 7 on the third jump at Cardrona (so a really big jump), & pretty much superman front flipped over & landed on my shoulder which was really scary!
How’d you get into competitive snowboarding?:
My first competition was in Whistler, Canada. I won a phone at the comp because I was the only girl & it was a spot prize, so that was really cool.
What was the craziest thing about winning a bronze medal for New Zealand?
Probably not realising it was the first medal for New Zealand in 26 years, & how much of a big deal that was. I wasn’t expecting the reaction.
How do you deal with the pressure of high-level competition?
I don’t feel any pressure when I’m snowboarding – I just do me. When I’m snowboarding I don’t worry about anyone else. I’m just focused on snowboarding so I don’t feel any pressure.
Who do you look up to – in snowboarding/outside of snowboarding?
In snowboarding I look up to my coach, Mitch Brown. Firstly he’s got the best style, & then he just knows what to do in every situation – in competition & out of competition, he just knows what it’s like. He’s a good role model & I’m really lucky to have him as a coach. Outside of snowboarding, I look up to my parents & my siblings.
Which of your achievements outside of snowboarding are you most proud of & why?:
I don’t have much of a life outside of snowboarding! I’m proud that I’ve made it this far in school – I didn’t really expect to still be in school. It’s really hard to get through it all so I’m proud of that.
What are your goals from here?
I’m definitely looking at China in 2022. Then my goal is just to keep having fun & staying healthy so hopefully I have a long career.
This interview was first published in our 2018 Heart of Gold magazine – pick up your copy on the mountain next time you're up!