Zoi Sadowski-Synnott Takes First Place In Final Event Of 2023 Natural Selection Tour In Valdez, Alaska

Welcome the new backcountry champ! Monster Energy congratulates team rider Zoi Sadowski-Synnott on taking first place in the final stop of the 2023 Natural Selection Tour snowboard contest in Valdez, Alaska. In the invite-only competition on natural mountain terrain, the 22-year-old Olympic gold medalist from Wanaka, New Zealand, dominated the competition to claim the overall 2023 series title.

“I think this event focuses on the riders and what they want. And really taking into account the conditions, trying to put on the best run under those conditions,” said Sadowski-Synnott.

Now in its third year, the Natural Selection Tour is the brainchild of professional snowboarder Travis Rice. Instead of competing on purpose-built snow parks, riders execute tricks on natural backcountry terrain. Riding in real mountain environments, snowboarders engage in head-to-head battles on pristine slopes, performing tricks on obstacles such as trees and cliffs layered with fresh powder snow.

The 2023 YETI Natural Selection Tour kicked off in February with Natural Selection DUELS on rider-selected freeriding venues worldwide. The top riders then descended on Revelstoke, Canada in March, with Sadowski-Synnott and Rice clinching the wins.

For the final stage in April, the Chugach Mountains near the town of Valdez set the scene for the final stop of the 2023 tour. Riders competed at more than 3,500 feet above sea level in front of dramatic mountain vistas for the title of overall Natural Selection Tour champion.

When it came to winning in Alaska, past achievements held no weight – especially when natural mountain terrain is involved – so Sadowski-Synnott was in for a battle.

In the women’s semifinal, Sadowski-Synnott faced off against American Olympic snowboarder Hailey Langland. “The mountains up here are so much bigger than you think. Hailey and I were just in Whistler filming together. I was hoping not to see her again. But I'm also super excited because we really push each other,” said Sadowski-Synnott about the matchup.

With Langland putting down a flawless high-speed run, Sadowski-Synnott had no choice but to send it big: Hitting a previously untouched ridge on the mountain, she dropped off a massive cliff into an ultra-steep incline but lost her footing on a turn. In scoring, Langland took the lead with 75.00 points over Sadowski-Synnott trailing behind at 74.00 points.

As the contest came down to her second run, Sadowski-Synnott showed nerves by landing a huge melon transfer off the first spine, then traversing the steep mountainside via flow ollie, followed by a steep cliff drop and pop over a wild island feature. Rounding out the perfect run, she popped a shifty ollie at high speed. When the scores came in, Sadowski-Synnott edged ahead with 78.00 points to move on to the final.

In the final showdown, Sadowski-Synnott revisited her rivalry with 33-year-old American freeride icon Elena Hight. The two had battled in the final of last season’s Natural Selection event at Baldface Lodge, Canada, with the Sadowski-Synnott taking the win.

Straight out of the gate, Hight maneuvered the challenging terrain with speed and precision. Sadowski-Synnott responded by building speed on the mountainside into a huge frontside 360 air over the natural spine. She then carved into a massive cliff drop, followed by melon off the edge and ending her perfect run with a speed run down the steep section. At the end of Run 1, Sadowski-Synnott was leading with 88.00 points over Hight’s 87.00 points.

On the final run, Sadowski-Synnott upped the ante by sending an even bigger frontside 360 air over the spine, into a melon air off the cliff, and a huge Indy air into the steep incline and a double drop on the pillow stack for the win.

“Going into the finals, I really wanted to do something I was stoked on, get some good snow, and find some air time. It’s pretty psycho up there. I’m just stoked to make it down in one piece!” said Sadowski-Synnott upon winning Natural Selection Alaska.

Sadowski-Synnott also took the 2023 overall Natural Selection Tour championship.

The win at Natural Selection is part of a high-profile victory streak for Sadowski-Synnott: In 2022, she earned Slopestyle gold and Big Air silver at the Beijing Olympics and was celebrated as New Zealand’s first Winter Olympics gold medalist. At X Games 2023, the Kiwi ripper claimed Slopestyle gold and silver in Big Air.


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