Winter Olympics: Zoi Sadowski-Synnott close to all-time greats on New Zealand’s Olympic summit

0

*Tony Smith is a senior sportswriter for Stuff

OPINION: Gold and silver medals on the snowy slopes of Beijing surely catapulted Zoi Sadowski-Synnott close to the pinnacle honored by New Zealand’s greatest Olympians.

The 20-year-old from Wānaka was already Aotearoa’s first Winter Olympics gold medalist in slopestyle before lining up in the big air final on Tuesday.

Her silver medal, behind repeat Austrian champion Anna Gasser, means she now stands second only to our multiple gold medalists in the Summer Olympics and Paralympics hall of fame – Lisa Carrington, Hamish Bond, Danyon Loader, Ian Ferguson and Peter Snell, and the incomparable Paralympian, Sophie Pascoe.

SPORTS SKY

The Kiwi champion is dominated by a superb final race from her rival Anna Gasser.

She’s already the best shooter in class – as evidenced by her generous applause for Gasser’s gold medal just before heading into hers, which ended in a crash as her nation held its collective breath .

READ MORE:
* Winter Olympics: Zoi Sadowski-Synnott falls on final jump to finish with silver in big air
* Winter Olympics: The Special Meaning of Zoi Sadowski-Synnott’s Name
* ‘She’s amazing’: Zoi Sadowski-Synnott stunned the family even at the age of six, her father says
* Global media in awe of Zoi Sadowski-Synnott after slopestyle snowboarding success
* Winter Olympics: Zoi Sadowski-Synnott aims for second gold medal after ‘jubilation’ of slopestyle win

It seems crazy to talk about the winner of the next Halberg Awards top prize when the 2022 winner has yet to be announced.

But put a big gold ring around Sadowski-Synnott’s distinctive double-barreled name for the 2023 gong. If you add her two Olympic medals to her big air-slopestyle twin at the X Games in January, she must be a certified pilot. .

Even though White Ferns cricketers and Black Ferns rugby players have upset the odds and won their respective World Cups, it’s hard to imagine a Kiwi sporting feat surpassing Sadowski-Synnott’s success for global impact. in 2022.

Considering the Halberg Prize Jury’s usual genuflect at the Olympic Flame, it must be a (snow) shoo-in.

Zoi Sadowski Synnott soars while performing a trick in the big air qualifier.

Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

Zoi Sadowski Synnott soars while performing a trick in the big air qualifier.

Winning a gold medal at an Olympiad in any discipline is a phenomenal feat, but winning two medals (or more) is the preserve of a generational champion.

For many older sports fans of this writer’s anecdote, the late great Snell remains the torchbearer among New Zealand’s Olympic gold medalists after his 800m and 1500m triumphs in Tokyo in 1964, four years after winning gold in the 800m in Rome.

Why should this rate exceed Ferguson’s 1984 Los Angeles canoe racing treble (in K1 500m, K2 500m and K4 1000m)?

Quite simply, because middle-distance track events are among the bluest sports in Olympic sports.

Peter Snell winning the 800 meters at the Rome Olympics in 1960. He reversed course four years later with the 800m-1500m double in Tokyo.

PA

Peter Snell winning the 800 meters at the Rome Olympics in 1960. He reversed course four years later with the 800m-1500m double in Tokyo.

Next to Snell, for me, is Loader’s double gold medal in the Atlanta pool in 1996. Swimming ranks among the most watched codes of the Olympics and Loader won the 200m and the 400 m in freestyle, the discipline to be drawn from the sport.

The ultimate Olympian conversation must include two water prodigies – Carrington, who ripped it up in Tokyo, winning the 2020 Olympic gold medals in the K1 500m and K2 500m with now-retired Caitlin Regal, and Bond, the eighth rowing champion.

Team New Zealand's Lisa Carrington double gold in kayaking at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP

Team New Zealand’s Lisa Carrington double gold in kayaking at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

For sustained excellence and longevity, it’s hard to top this duo, the first New Zealanders to win gold medals at three Olympic Games or Pascoe, who won three gold medals at the Paralympic Games in 2008, 2012 and 2016.

Sadowski-Synnott couldn’t win two golds in Beijing, but it took a stunning 1280 performance by Gasser, one of the greatest snowboarders of all time, to deny him it.

But don’t bet on Sadowski-Synnott joining the double-gold club in their bright future.

Just 20 now (at her second Winter Olympics), she will be 24 at the next Games and still only 28 in 2030. There are plenty of winter sports athletes in Beijing older than that, including the US Mixed Snowboard Team. champions Nick Baumgartner, 40, and Lindsey Jacobellis, 36. Gasser is 30 years old and, as we saw on Tuesday, shows no signs of slowing down.

Whatever the future holds, Sadowski-Synnott’s flair in the air this month has allowed the Winter Olympics fraternity to fully emerge, flashing in the sporting spotlight after shivering for so long in the shadow of the Summer Olympics. Countless Kiwi kids will grab their snowboards next winter, inspired by his example.

Zoi Sadowski-Synnott was the top qualifier in the Winter Olympics snowboarding big air, against the backdrop of a cooling tower in an abandoned steelworks in Beijing.

Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

Zoi Sadowski-Synnott was the top qualifier in the Winter Olympics snowboarding big air, against the backdrop of a cooling tower in an abandoned steelworks in Beijing.

She also continued the runaway success of New Zealand sportswomen of this century.

After her big air bronze in PyeongChang aged 16 in 2018, she became the heir apparent to a proud female sporting tradition. After three medals at two Winter Games, she is on par with cyclist Sarah Ulmer, rowing twins Caroline and Georgina Evers-Swindell, golfer Lydia Ko and a trio of ladies – Carrington, Pascoe and Valerie Adams .

She’s great company to keep for a 20-year-old – and she still has some big aerial medals to win.

Share.

Comments are closed.