13 Mar 2021

A golden day for New Zealand at the World Snowboard and Freeski champs

12:15 pm on 13 March 2021

Wanaka snowboarder Zoi Sadowski-Synnott and freeskier Nico Porteous have both won titles on the same day at the World Snowboarding and Freesking Championships in Aspen, Colorado.

Nico Porteous & Zoi Sadowski Synnott with their X Games medals in Aspen

Nico Porteous & Zoi Sadowski Synnott with their X Games medals in Aspen Photo: www.snowsports.co.nz

Sadowski-Synott became the first person ever to defend a snowboarding title when she won the slopestyle event and then a couple of hours later Porteous won the freeski halfpipe title.

It was a clutch performance from 20 year old Sadowski-Synott who jumped from last into the top spot on the third and final run of the competition.

The last of the eight finalists to drop in to the three rail, three jump course, the New Zealand struggled to land clean runs on her first two attempts with stumbles on the top rail and first jump.

However, with stomped landings on her switch back 900 and backside 1080 it was clear a podium run was ready and waiting if she could link it all together on the third and final attempt.

"I knew if I landed my run I had a good chance of taking the top spot," said Zoi. "It was all up to me, I knew I could do those tricks, I was just trying to get it done so I could defend the title."

Double Olympic gold medallist Jamie Anderson of the United States just missed out on claiming her first Slopestyle World Championship gold medal, finishing second with Australian Tess Coady third.

18-year-old Queenstown rider, Cool Wakushima, making her World Championships debut and with only one World Cup start to her name finished eighth.

Meanwhile 19 year old Porteous backed up his X-Games victory earlier this year by posting the highest score of 94.50 in his first run in the halfpipe to finish ahead Canadian Simon D'Artois with Birk Irving of the United States third.

Fourth in Thursday's qualifying rounds, Nico nonetheless came into today's finals competition as the man to beat, with arguably the most progressive run in men's freeski halfpipe at the moment.

Competing at X Games Aspen in the very same halfpipe six weeks ago, Nico won the gold medal with a new trick combination of back-to-back left and right 1620s. He is the only athlete ever to land this in competition... he broke his foot while skateboarding two days later.

"I went through a crazy high at X Games with the result there and then two days later I broke my foot and went through a low period, stuck at home for a month," Nico explained after the competition. "First day of (World Champs) training was my first day back in the pipe and my foot was feeling good. I'm just absolutely stoked, this pipe has been so good to me."

Competition continues for the NZ team tomorrow with Finn Bilous competing in the finals of the Freeski Slopestyle having qualified in fourth place.

The 2021 FIS Freeski & Snowboard World Championships were rescheduled to be held in Aspen after initial plans for the event in China were shelved back in December due to Covid-19 restrictions in the nation.