Beijing, China (13 December 2019) – NZ snowboarder Zoi Sadowski-Synnott (Wanaka) is through to the finals of the Air + Style FIS Snowboard World Cup in Beijing, finishing second in her qualifying heat yesterday (Thursday) afternoon.
Zoi, who is the current World Champion in women’s snowboard slopestyle, and a 2019 X Games silver medallist in big air, scored 165.75 points in the best-two-of-three run qualification, landing a backside 720 melon grab and switch backside 900 stalefish.
The Air + Style is one of the world’s premier snowboard competitions running for over 25 years. This year’s edition is taking place at the brand-new Shougang Park permanent big air ramp, situated on the western outskirts of China’s capital city. Formerly an industrial park on Beijing’s fringes, Shougang Park is being transformed into a centre of sport and culture ahead of the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games - and the big air jump that will host Olympic competition in just over two years’ time is its centrepiece.
The start list was a who’s who of the women’s snowboarding world including Austria’s Anna Gasser, reigning Olympic big air gold medallist and winner of both of the previous two Air + Style Beijing big air World Cups, and Jamie Anderson (USA), the two-time reigning Olympic slopestyle gold medallist and PyeongChang 2019 big air silver medallist. Eyes were also on Japanese riders, last year’s big air crystal globe winner Reira Iwabuchi, and Miyabi Onitsuka, who won last season’s slopestyle crystal globe, but in the end, it was their teammate Kokomo Murase who would take the top score of 173 points.
The men’s field, split across two heats, took place under lights yesterday evening, and also featured the world’s best riders. Chris Corning (USA), who started the season off with a win at the Winter Games NZ at Cardrona, topped heat one, with Sven Thorgren (SWE) looking ready to defend his Air + Style title from last year coming in as the top qualifier in heat two.
NZ’s Tiarn Collins, returning to competition a year after sustaining an injury at the 2018 Air + Style, missed the top five cut, finishing eighth in his heat, while up and comer Mitchell Davern (Auckland) placed 17th in heat two. Those missing out on qualifying included some of the sport’s heaviest hitters such as Norwegian duo Staale Sandbech and Mons Roisland and Belgium’s Seppe Smit.
The snowboard big air World Cup finals are scheduled for Saturday at 19.30 local time, 12.30am Sunday NZT.
Meanwhile, competition continues today at Shougang Park with the freeski big air qualifiers and NZ skiers Margaux Hackett, Finn Bilous, Jackson Wells and Ben Barclay on the start lists.
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