The 20-year-old left it late, putting down the best score with the final run of the day (92.88) to push American Julia Marino out of first place on the strength of a pair of double-cork 1080s and a massive final jump that had the Kiwi struggling to hang on for a clean landing.
"Honestly it just feels unreal. I'm super proud of where my snowboarding has come in the last four years," she said before collecting her gold medal. "And I'm super proud to be Kiwi and show the world what Kiwis are made of. I took everything I had in me to try to land it [that last jump] and I told myself just to do anything you can to land it -- and I did."
It was Sadowski-Synnott’s first Olympic gold medal -- and the first Winter Olympic gold for the country of New Zealand.
"I hope that my performance here will inspire young kids back home to take up snowboarding because I think it's the funnest sport ever," added the New Zealand Olympic hero and history-maker.
Zoi, competing in her second Olympic Games, has now marked herself out as the future of both the slopestyle and big air women’s disciplines. She gave glimpses of her Olympic gold-winning run in the X Games in Aspen, Colorado late last month – pulling out a pair of 1080 double corks to cap one of the most technical women’s slopestyle runs ever seen up to that point.
Julia Marino, the 24-year-old American out of Westport, Connecticut, took the silver medal at her second Olympic Games with a score of 87.68 earned in her second run -- which threatened to be good enough for gold until Sadowski-Synnott's late heroics spoiled the party.
There's so much emotion and I'm feeling pure excitement right now," Marino said after winning her first Olympic medal. "It was a great day. The weather was perfect and the course was perfect. This feels exactly like what an Olympic final should be."
Australian Tess Coady finished with the bronze (84.14) after her massive double cork frontside 1080 wowed the judges.
"Making the finals is such a big deal. I just wanted to come out here today and send it because I knew everyone was going to," said the Australian. "There was no point in a safe run. I wanted to lay something down that I’d be proud of. I’m so stoked to have been able to do that.”
Women’s slopestyle snowboard results
- 1 Zoi Sadowski-Synnott (NZL) 92.88
- 2 Julia Marino (USA) 87.68
- 3 Tess Coady (AUS) 84.14