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Wednesday, October 5, 2022

American Julia Marino claims silver in snowboard slopestyle

American Julia Marino Claims Silver In Snowboard Slopestyle

By EDDIE PELLS

ZHANGJIAKOU, China — She scaled “The Great Wall.” She navigated, and dominated, the toughest course she had ever ridden. But if Zoi Sadowski Synnott thought the hard part was over once she crossed the Olympic finish line, she had another thing coming.

More to the point, New Zealand’s first Winter Games champion had the silver and bronze medalists coming straight at her.

After watching the run that knocked them down a notch Sunday, American Julia Marino and Australian Tess Coady ran out and wrestled the new Kiwi slopestyle champion into a dogpile on the snow. They were celebrating a day that women’s snowboarding had been waiting four years to see.

“Pretty sick,” Sadowski Synnott said. “That was a pretty special competition, especially after the last Olympics where we had some pretty challenging conditions.”

There was nothing easy about the Secret Garden Olympic Slopestyle course, an aesthetic masterpiece with a replica of The Great Wall bejeweled throughout the supersized layout.

But four years ago in Pyeongchang, women’s snowboarding suffered a black eye. Forced to compete in windy conditions that had sent the Alpine skiers home on another part of the mountain, American Jamie Anderson won a contest in which 51 of the 60 runs ended with a rider on her backside, or slowly riding off the course, unable to navigate the shifting gusts.

The percentages weren’t that much better Sunday – over the three-round final, 25 of the 36 runs were aborted or watered down, in large part because of the rock-hard snowpack and the angled run-ups to the kickers.

“We’d never really seen a course like this before,” Marino said.

The difference, though, was the way the top of the pack handled the challenge.

Where Anderson, through no fault of her own, won the 2018 contest with tricks that were throwbacks to more than a decade earlier, Sadowski Synnott won Sunday with the toughest combination in the sport — a run built for 2022.

Trailing Marino as she headed into the final run of the contest, she nailed back-to-back double-cork 1080s. It was a combo she used two weekends ago to win a gold medal at the Winter X Games. Before that, no woman had ever landed it in a competition.

“Greatest run of my life,” Sadowski Synnott said of her repeat performance on a sun-splashed day when the wind chill dropped to minus-13 degrees Fahrenheit (minus-25 Celsius).

Anderson finished ninth and didn’t get through any of her three runs unscathed. It has been a rough road to the Olympics for the champion, including a break-in of her car, some out-of-character competitions and an overall sense that she just wasn’t feeling it.

But she, like everyone else on the mountain, knew what this contest meant.

“I’m really happy for Zoi and Tess and just to see where and how far snowboarding has come for the girls,” the 31-year-old Anderson said. “Even if I was a little bit of that inspiration to some of the younger girls, I feel so proud and so grateful.”

Everyone was – even the second-place finisher.

World Nation News Desk
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