Canadian snowboarder Laurie Blouin falls just short of Olympic podium in women's slopestyle final
Zoi Sadowski-Synnott wins New Zealand's 1st-ever Winter Olympic gold medal
Canadian snowboarder Laurie Blouin fell just short of returning to the Olympic podium with a fourth-place finish in the women's slopestyle competition on Sunday morning in Beijing.
Zoi Sadowski-Synnott won New Zealand's first-ever Winter Olympic gold medal on the final run of the day, while American Julia Marino and Australia's Tess Coady claimed silver and bronze, respectively.
Blouin posted her highest score on her final run (81.41), but it was not enough to return to the podium after capturing silver in her Olympic debut four years ago following a serious training crash that almost kept her from competing.
"It's a mixed feeling," Blouin said following the result. "I'm stoked but I was so close. I need to be proud of myself."
WATCH | Canada's Laurie Blouin finishes 4th in Olympic slopestyle:
The 25-year-old Quebec City native is also competing in the women's big air event, which kicks off Feb. 13 at 8:30 p.m. ET.
"It's time to, not forget [about slopestyle], but just turn the page and think about big air."
Twelve of the world's top snowboarders battled for the Olympic crown on the Genting Snow Park course, with the best of three runs determining the champion.
Sadowski-Synnott claimed gold with a score of 92.88 on the last run after pulling off back-to-back 1080s to bump Marino out of top spot.
WHAT A MOMENT 🚨<br><br>After Zoi Sadowski-Synnott absolutely STOMPED her final run in the women's slopestyle event the celebration was PERFECT <a href="https://t.co/ZFe5KPRZnT">pic.twitter.com/ZFe5KPRZnT</a>—@CBCOlympics
"I tried to think last night what it would mean if I managed to land my run and come away with gold, and it feels unreal," Sadowski-Synnott said.
"I am super proud of where my snowboarding has come in the last few years and super proud to be Kiwi and show the world what Kiwis are made of."
Sadowski-Synnott won Olympic big air bronze in Pyeongchang and was in first place after slopestyle qualifying in Beijing with 86.75. The 20-year-old captured slopestyle gold at the past two world championships and was fresh off winning the same event at the X Games last month.
Marino, a returning Olympian and seven-time X Games medallist, was in position to win gold with 87.68 after putting down an incredible second run that she capped off with a frontside double cork 1080 on the final jump.
Her silver is the first medal for the U.S. at these Games.
"I'm feeling so many emotions. Right now it's pure excitement and happiness. It was a great day. The weather was perfect. The course was perfect. The girls were riding well. I couldn't have asked for a better finals. It's exactly what it should be like," Marino said.
Blouin had momentarily put herself in podium position with a solid opening run that included a frontside cork 1080 to help her earn 77.96, which was initially good enough for second place behind Coady.
But she was bumped down to third after Sadowski-Synnott moved into first with 84.51 on her first run. Blouin was knocked out of podium position when Japan's Reira Iwabuchi scored 80.03 on her second run.
Coady had moved down to third while Iwabuchi was bumped off the podium following Marino's silver medal run. Coady saved her best for her final run when she executed a switch backside 900 and improved to 84.15, but it was still only good enough for third place.
Coady's bronze win has added significance, as the 21-year-old missed out on her Olympic debut in 2018 after she tore her left ACL in a practice run.
"Seriously, [it means] the world. It means so much to me. I'm so incredibly grateful. This is insane," Coady said.
Iwabuchi finished fifth behind Blouin (80.83), followed by Austria's Anna Gasser in sixth (75.33), two-time Olympic medallist Enni Rukajarvi of Finland in seventh (71.45) and Germany's Annika Morgan in eighth (64.13).
Japan's Kokomo Murase finished 10th (49.05) in her Olympic debut after winning slopestyle gold at Calgary's Snow Rodeo last month. American Hailey Langland and Switzerland's Ariane Burri finished 11th and 12th, respectively.
Blouin is the only women's snowboarder to ever be crowned world champion in both the slopestyle and big air disciplines. She has won four X Games medals, and she is the only Canadian to win an Olympic medal in women's slopestyle since the event's debut at the Sochi Games in 2014.
WATCH | Perseverance pushed Blouin onto Olympic podium in 2018:
She claimed slopestyle bronze at both the Snow Rodeo World Cup event in Calgary and the X Games as part of her Olympic preparation last month. Next month will mark the 10th anniversary of Blouin's World Cup debut.
Blouin booked her spot in the final yesterday with a solid second run that earned her 71.55 for seventh spot. She was the only Canadian to advance to the final, as Georgetown, Ont.'s Jasmine Baid and Fort McMurray's Brooke Voigt finished 15th and 22nd in qualifying, respectively.
WATCH | Blouin qualifies for Olympic slopestyle final:
The men's snowboard slopestyle qualifying runs get underway at 11:30 p.m. ET, featuring returning Canadian Olympians Mark McMorris, Max Parrot and Sébastien Toutant. Darcy Sharpe of Comox, B.C., will be making his Olympic debut.
Parrot claimed slopestyle silver at the 2018 Olympics, while McMorris finished behind him for bronze.