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Zoi Sadowski Synnott on the podium with Julia Marino and Tess Coady
Zoi Sadowski Synnott is taking the sport of snowboarding to another level for womenImage: Maja Hitij/Getty Images

New Zealand win first-ever Winter Olympic gold

Jonathan Harding AFP, Reuters
February 6, 2022

More history was made on day two of Beijing 2022, but skiers in the men's downhill had to wait for their chance to claim gold as high winds postponed the event. There was also gold for Germany in the men's singles luge.


On Waitangi Day, the national day of New Zealand, Zoi Sadowski Synnott gave her country extra reason to celebrate as the 20-year-old won her country's first-ever Winter Olympic gold.

Sadowski Synnott came from behind to snatch the women's snowboard slopestyle title with an incredible final run, claiming gold with the last run of the competition that included a remarkable backside double 1080 trick.

This is only New Zealand's fourth ever Winter Olympic medal, and Sadowski Synnott has now won two (having won bronze in the Big Air at Pyeongchang four years ago).

'Super proud'

"It was the best run of my life... Honestly, it's absolute disbelief but it probably means more to me to win New Zealand's first Winter Olympic gold," said Sadowski Synnott, who was born in Sydney and moved to New Zealand when she was six. "It makes me super proud to be a Kiwi."

American Julia Marino took silver, with Tess Coady sealing bronze for Australia, their first medal of these Games in Beijing. Both mobbed Sadowski Synnott afterward, hailing her run as a huge moment for the sport.

"She's the one that's taking the sport to the next level and I'm just happy to be a part of it and be there with her," Marino said afterward.

Sadowski Synnott was born in Sydney to an American mother and New Zealand father and moved to the town of Wanaka when she was six. During Covid lockdown, she jumped on a trampoline back home in New Zealand to help her aerial awareness.

Gold in Beijing caps a fantastic year, as the 20-year-old becomes the first athlete to add Olympic gold to a world and X Games title in less than a year.

Gold medals

Four years after suffering the pain of finishing fourth, Australian Jakara Anthony got her revenge by winning gold in the women's moguls. Anthony topped qualifying and the two final rounds, but had to beat America's Jaelin Kauf in the final run to clinch gold.

Ryoyu Kobayashi followed up a win at the Four Hills tournament with a gold at Beijing in the men's normal hill. The ski jumper from Japan was one of the few to handle difficult windy conditions well and with the last jump of the day took gold away from Austria's Manuel Fettner to seal Japan's first gold of these Games.

Nils van der Poel on the ice
Nils van der Poel delivered a sensational final lap to win goldImage: imago images

Sweden's Nils van der Poel ousted Dutchman Patrick Roest in the men's 5,000m speed skating by surging back to snatch gold and set a new Olympic record in the process. van der Poel, the current world champion, was 0.99s behind at the bell but finished superbly to leave Roest, who had set an Olympic record of his own earlier, crestfallen.

With Norway's Simen Hegstad Krüger not able to defend his title after testing positive just before the Games, the men's skiathlon (30km cross-country skiing) was won by 2021 world champion winner Alexander Bolshunov (ROC). He left the Norwegians in his wake, finishing more than a minute ahead of the rest and sealing the first gold of the Games for Russian Olympic Committee athletes.

Alexander Bolshunov crosses the line
Alexander Bolshunov wins the men's skiathlonImage: imago images

There were no medals awarded in the men's downhill after heavy winds (around 65 km/h) saw the event postponed. It looks like Monday will be the new day for the event, with organizers hoping the weather poses fewer challenges at the start of a new week.

Germany update

Johannes Ludwig held his nerve to take his first individual Olympic gold in the men's single luge, edging out Wolfgang Kindl of Austria and Italy's Dominik Fischnaller.

The 35-year-old German won gold in the team relay and produced a solid last run when it mattered. The three men that held the medal positions going into the last run all held their positions come the end.

Ludwig twice broke the track record and bagged Germany's 11th gold in 16 men's singles events, and a 35th overall in the sport.

But it was a disappointing day in the men's normal hill for Germany. Given Germany won gold in this event four years ago, seeing Constantin Schmid finish 11th and Karl Geiger 15th was tough.

Germany team chief Dirk Schimmelpfennig told reporters that organizers had acted quickly to improve conditions for athletes in isolation, just a day after Schimmelpfennig called the conditions "unacceptable".

"Now the athletes have a satisfying framework of conditions. They have bigger rooms now, working wifi, an exercise bike in the room so we have appropriate and satisfying conditions in a very difficult situation for the athletes," Schimmelpfennig said.

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