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New Zealand earns 2 golds to open Aspen snowboard, freestyle skiing worlds

After crashing in her first two runs, Zoi Sadowski-Synnott dazzled in her final attempt to earn a score of 85.95 and become the first woman to defend her snowboard slopestyle victory at the World Championships.

New Zealand won two of the first four events, while the U.S. earned one silver and one bronze medal at the world freestyle skiing and snowboarding championships in Aspen, Colorado, on Friday.

New Zealand won women’s snowboard slopestyle (Zoi Sadowski-Synnott) and men’s ski halfpipe (Nico Porteous). In 2018, Sadowski-Synnott and Porteous earned New Zealand’s second and third medals in Winter Olympic history (both bronze).

The U.S. bagged medals Friday from Jamie Anderson (silver, snowboard slopestyle) and Birk Irving (bronze, ski halfpipe).

China’s Eileen Gu won the women’s ski halfpipe. Norwegian Marcus Kleveland won the men’s snowboard slopestyle.

Worlds continue Saturday with finals in ski slopestyle and snowboard halfpipe, featuring Olympic champion Chloe Kim. A full TV and live stream schedule is here.

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On Friday, Sadowski-Synnott overtook Anderson, the greatest slopestyle rider in history, in the final run of the eight-rider, three-run competition.

Sadowski-Synnott landed a switch backside 900, frontside 720 and backside double 1080 for 85.95 points, jumping from last to first to repeat as world champion. In 2019, Sadowski-Synnott became the first skier or snowboarder from New Zealand to win a world title.

She denied Anderson, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and eight-time X Games Aspen champion, from adding the lone major snowboarding title missing from her resume.

Finland’s Enni Rukajarvi took bronze, her first world slopestyle medal since taking gold in its debut in 2011.

In men’s slopestyle, Kleveland’s two runs produced the two highest scores -- 86.86 and 90.66, including a switch backside 1260 and back-to-back 1620s in the latter.

Canadian Sebastien Toutant took silver, followed by Finland’s Rene Rinnekangas, who edged U.S. Olympic champion Red Gerard for bronze by .23.

In ski halfpipe, Porteous prevailed with a 94.50-point first run, landing back-to-back 1620s a month after breaking his left foot skateboarding. His first day back in a halfpipe was this week, at the same site as his title at X Games in January.

Canadian Simon d’Artois held on for silver, 3.25 points back, after Irving didn’t take a third run after falling in his second run.

David Wise, the two-time Olympic champion, placed 10th in the 10-man final.

Gu, a 17-year-old born in San Francisco to an American father and Chinese mother, prevailed in her world championships debut. In January, Gu swept ski halfpipe and ski slopestyle in her X Games debut to become an Olympic favorite in her home nation next year.

Gu landed back-to-back cork 900s in her winning, 93-point run, competing without poles for the first time. She suffered a fracture and tear in her right hand weeks earlier and will undergo surgery after worlds, according to her Instagram.

Canadian Rachael Karker took silver with a 91.75-point third run, overtaking Brit Zoe Atkin.

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