Zoi Sadowski Synnott nails last run to clinch back-to-back slopestyle world titles

NZ Olympic bronze medallist had fallen on first two runs but was flawless on her final attempt. Earlier, Marcus Kleveland won men's gold.

By ZK Goh
Picture by 2021 Getty Images

New Zealand's Zoi Sadowski Synnott became the first snowboarder, male or female, to win back-to-back slopestyle world titles after staging a superb comeback at the FIS Snowboard World Championships in Aspen, Colorado, on Friday (12 March).

The 20-year-old had fallen on each of her first two attempts and was sitting last of the eight finalists heading into the final run.

But the Kiwi, who as the top qualifier from Wednesday was also the last athlete down the course, put that to one side as she absolutely stomped her final run.

Chasing Jamie Anderson's top score of 81.10, Sadowski Synnott kept her cool, putting together a clean run that had Anderson applauding and hugging her at the finish.

The New Zealander scored 9.00 for three of her six segments, including her final switch backside 900° weddle, and received a total score of 85.95.

Anderson, the Olympic champion, won silver having been unable to improve on her first-run top score in either of her latter runs. Australia's Tess Coady took bronze with a 78.13 second run.

"I fell on those two runs and I was pretty bummed," Sadowski Synnott told FIS TV after her winning run.

"But I knew if I'd landed my [last] run, I'd have a chance of taking the top spot. It was all up to me – I knew I could do those tricks. I was just trying to get it done to defend the title."

Earlier, Norway's Marcus Kleveland – twice an X-Games slopestyle champion but medal-less at the World Championships – took gold in the men's final.

In contrast to the women's event, the 16 men's finalists had only two runs to show off their best stuff, and Kleveland certainly did.

Not content with his 86.86 score from the first run, which would have been good enough for gold anyway, the Norwegian went and one-upped himself in his second attempt.

Three of his six second-run tricks received scores of at least 9.50, including the last two segments on the middle and final kicker – a backside 1620° melon and cab 1620° indy.

He improved his score above the 90-point threshold, scoring 90.66 points.

Incredibly, he overcame discomfort in his leg to do so, having apparently hurt himself in practice earlier in the day.

"This morning I actually went a little bit [big]," he admitted to FIS TV. "I didn't go too big, just had a hard impact on my leg. My leg didn't feel good after it and I just went and got an x-ray," he said.

Canada's Sebastien Toutant took silver – his 82.53 points holding from his first run – while Finland's Rene Rinnekangas relied on a huge backside 1620° melon (scoring 9.30 points) to score 82.51 in his second run and win bronze, edging out Olympic champion Red Gerard.