Gold medal years in the making

New Zealand’s first Winter Olympic gold medallist had dreamt of that winning moment since she was a pupil at Wanaka Primary School.

When snowboarder Zoi Sadowski-Synnott (20) was presented with the slopestyle gold medal on Sunday, it was the culmination of years of preparation.

Her mother, Robyn Sadowski-Synnott, remembers her daughter drawing a picture of herself snowboarding in front of the Olympic rings while at primary school.

"She was a big soccer player and probably her first dream was always to be a professional athlete. She loved sport," Mrs Sadowski-Synnott said.

Her parents, Sean Synnott and Robyn, who watched Zoi win on television, recalled when as an 8-year old Sadowski Synnott was one of only two females in a competition called King and Queen of the Rails and went on to win a smartphone in the open women’s snowboard competition.

It was then she realised she could win cool stuff if she competed, Mr Synnott said.

The couple enjoyed skiing or snowboarding with their five children as a family.

The family moved from North America to Wanaka in 2008 and lived two doors along from top snowboarders Will Jackways and Abby Lockwood, who let the children use their skateboard mini-ramp.

"Abby and Will were always very encouraging of the kids," Mrs Sadowski Synnott said.

Celebrating Wanaka snowboarder Zoi Sadowski-Synnott’s gold medal at the Wanaka Fan Zone were ...
Celebrating Wanaka snowboarder Zoi Sadowski-Synnott’s gold medal at the Wanaka Fan Zone were (from left) Illume (sister), Dylan (brother), Robin (mum), Sean (dad) and Reilly (sister). Absent is brother Harrison. PHOTO: NZOC
The couple have talked with their daughter on the phone several times since the win.

"She is over the moon," Mrs Sadowski Synnott said.

"She is feeling good, decompressing now. She is not even thinking about the big air [scheduled for Monday and Tuesday next week]. She is staying chilled," Mr Synnott said.

Sadowski-Synnott’s sport is hard on her body but she has managed to avoid serious injuries, they said.

"Someone rang up after and said: "It looked like she was going to completely explode on that landing. Is she OK?". ‘Yes, she is OK’," her father said.

"She has been lucky," her mother said.

"She has done her shoulder, dislocated her elbow ... and prior to the northern hemisphere season she fractured her tibial platform."

Sadowski Synnott rested and recovered well, did light duties and delayed her departure overseas until mid-November.

Mr Synnott said preparation for Beijing had been stressful, as the New Zealand athletes negotiated Covid-19 restrictions, lockdowns and self-isolation periods in Europe and North America.

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