Zoi Sadowski-Synnott

Zoi Sadowski-Synnott and the Rival Within

On the verge of her second finals run, Zoi Sadowski-Synnott had little outside pressure on her shoulders. At 19 years old, the New Zealander had arrived at the Yeti Natural Selection Tour at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, WY, as a wildcard. Her ticket was punched based on a meteoric, podium-studded ascent in big air and slopestyle over the previous four years, as well as a few clips in Burton’s One World. But her backcountry resume was still virtually blank, and she was competing in a backcountry freestyle contest against a lineup of proven powderhounds: Jamie Anderson, Hana Beaman, Elena Hight and Robin Van Gyn, to name a few. If she’d been knocked out in the first round, no one would’ve batted an eye. 

Besides, Zoi had just ticked off her main goal for the event—stomping a wildcat—in her previous run. Putting it down had all but secured her victory over French freeride champion Marion Haerty. Zoi was essentially eyeing a victory lap. She could’ve played it safe on her way to the podium. Instead, she went to war with her biggest rival. “I try to compete against myself,” Zoi says. “I dropped in wanting to land a run that was going to be the best run of my life—the most fun run I’ve ever done.” 

She dropped with authority and threw down the best run of the day. The riders’ tent erupted. Zoi won the first stop of the Natural Selection Tour, earned a ticket to the finals in Alaska and proved that she belonged in the backcountry alongside the world’s best…

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