|   Katie Kennedy

Zoi portrait // p: Stan Leveille
On March 6th, it was Zoi Sadowski-Synott’s 22nd birthday. She was celebrating her birthday like any average 22 year old from New Zealand, by being the first female to drop into the Revelstoke venue for Natural Selection which was being broadcast live! 

A lot of insane snowboarding happened in between her first drop and the NST awards ceremony. Fast forward through the craziness, Zoi would not only be celebrating another year around sun, she would also be celebrating her victory in Revelstoke.  We jumped on the opportunity to wish Zoi a happy birthday, congratulate her on her win, and talk to her about her experience not only surviving but also thriving in “Boulder Park.” 

I’ll start with wishing you a happy birthday! You turned 22 years old on the day of the event. How did it feel having the contest on your birthday?
Zoi: Honestly, I wasn’t that stoked about having the contest on my birthday because if things didn’t go well it wouldn’t be the sickest birthday. I had the most stressful two days prior just knowing that we had to ride down that face. I don’t want to die on my birthday. But it was super sick. I couldn’t have asked for a better birthday. I was surrounded by a ton of sick people and got to ride pow. 

Winners circle // p: Dean Blotto
I can’t even imagine what was going through your head on top of those lines. How did you decide what line you wanted to ride? What was your strategy there? 

Zoi: The face was absolutely psycho when we first saw it. And was absolutely psycho to ride down. It was a two and half minute run. When I was picking a line, I knew that pillow lines would get scored higher and I know that I don’t have a lot of experience doing that. So I was trying to find the features that I could jump off. It was also really hard to navigate, so I wanted to pick lines where I would know where I was going and where I could also go off a couple cliffs and find some poppers. And make it down in one piece. I just wanted to find some good snow and make it to the bottom.

Not so mellow pillow drop // p: Tom Monterosso

How much sense of the course did you have before the event? 
Zoi: We had a scout day, so we got to look at the face. We got to look at it from across the valley, and we got to ride down the sides. Then we looked at it from the very bottom and saw some of the pillow lines but it’s only about 15% of the run that you’re seeing. After the scout day, we got sent drone footage. The lines were A, B, C, D, E, F, G and there was footage of a drone going down and up. I rode down A and that line was super wide so most of it wasn’t in the drone footage. I couldn’t see the cliff I went off of and popper underneath it. So I had to look at photos. Kimmy helped me a lot to find a line. We brainstormed together and were staying together. 

Roomies <3 // p: Dean Blotto

What was your mindset for picking your seed in the bracket? 
Zoi: I didn’t really think about it. There were only four of us so the person who would drop first would decide the whole thing. I haven’t dropped first in the NST yet, so I wanted to do that and get the freshies. 

Were you scared you actually might die in NST? 
Zoi: It kinda felt like that. It was a super gnarly face. If you take one wrong turn you are kinda screwed. You could easily get lost. 

What made you try a 720 in your run?
Zoi: Well I was at the top and had one more run. I wasn’t sure if Elena beat me and I wanted to push myself out of my comfort zone. I knew I was going to take the same line because I didn’t study any other line. I could have just done a back three. But before I went to strap in, Stan said: “Do something crazy” so then I was like I’m going to do it. I am still sore from eating shit on that.

Zen drop in routine // p: Stan Leveille

How does your body feel after that, both mentally and physically?  
Zoi: I am pretty knackered. Mentally and emotionally dropping in on something like that and knowing you are going to be on live TV is exhausting. But also riding two and half minute laps and going off cliffs... I woke up the next morning wondering why I was so sore but then was like oh fuck, I kinda ate shit on live TV. 

Did you have a fun night after? Did you honor the 10% rule? 

Zoi: I honestly don't even know or remember what happened. We had a really big night.

How to hold a camera // p: Stan Leveille

23 podiums in a row, that’s more than your age. Does that add any pressure when you go into events? 
Zoi: Not really. I think it’s a pretty sweet stat to have, and I am super stoked on it. When I go to events, I just want to ride well and don’t really think about that. I’m not like, if I don’t get into the top 3 my life is over.

New Zealanders are super chill.
 Speaking of New Zealand, Stefi Luxton is here to ask an important question.

Stefi: What was your favorite lyric from the Mount Aspiring College song? 

Zoi: I guess, “Doing the best we can.”
Stefi: That song is sick actually. 

Jill Perkins is also here and has some important questions. 
Jill: If you could ride like anyone else on the tour, who would it be and why? 
Zoi: That is a good question. If we are talking about guys, probably Ben Ferguson because he rides fast and I like his style. For girls, I’d say Elena because she is psycho at picking lines and does stuff I didn’t even think was possible. 

Jill:  There are other riders on this tour that have more experience than you with riding lines and reading terrain. Do you think your lack of experience and being more fresh to this type of riding gives you any advantage?
Zoi: I think that it's a balance for sure but being ill experienced and being sendy seems to work. Anytime I have ridden pillows, not in a comp, it always goes differently then how you expect and that’s what makes it sick because you are dealing with what comes at you. In my first run, I went off a cliff that I didn’t mean to and it actually looked way sicker than what I was going to do. 

Jill: What is scarier: the fear of losing or the fear of failing on national television? 
Zoi: The feeling of failing for sure. I think it doesn’t matter where you end up as long as you are stoked on your riding and are having fun. 

Jill: What is the last thing that goes through your head before you drop in? 
Zoi: I love my job. Just kidding. I just tell myself to chill out and be confident.

Aprés angel // p: Stan Leveille

Any last words?