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New Zealand win historic Olympic gold but wind delays downhill

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Russia’s Kamila Valieva, 15, showed why she will start among the favourites for the women’s figure skating title

“Super-proud” snowboarder Zoi Sadowski Synnott made history for New Zealand after winning their first ever Winter Olympics gold medal on Sunday but bad weather played havoc with the eagerly anticipated men’s downhill skiing.

Six golds were up for grabs on the second full day of competition in the Chinese capital, as the sports took centre stage after a build-up overshadowed by Covid and rights concerns.

Wind also caused the cancellation of Saturday’s third and final training run, albeit after three racers had come down the “Rock” course in Yanqing, notably hot favourite Aleksander Aamodt Kilde of Norway.

“Honestly it’s absolute disbelief but it probably means more to me to win New Zealand’s first Winter Olympic gold,” said Sadowski Synnott, who was born in Sydney and moved to New Zealand when she was six.

Sadowski Synnott, who spent Covid lockdown back in New Zealand jumping on a trampoline to help her aerial awareness, launched into a massive jump with her final trick to earn a winning score of 92.88.

New Zealand had previously won one silver and two bronze medals at the Winter Olympics — including a third-place finish for Sadowski Synnott in the Big Air competition at the 2018 Pyeongchang Games.

Other golds on offer Sunday were in cross-country skiing, freestyle skiing, luge, ski jumping and speed skating.

China also won their first gold in Beijing, the hosts’ quartet emerging from the thrills and spills of the short track speed skating mixed relay on the event’s chaotic debut.

The Games are taking place in a vast “closed loop” designed to thwart the coronavirus.

Everyone inside the bubble must wear face masks and take daily Covid tests.

The United States has led a diplomatic boycott of some Western nations, but their athletes are still competing.



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