Cambridge snowboarder wins gold at winter games

Last updated 07:54 23/12/2013

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Cambridge woman Natalie Good, self-funded and without a coach, has made history by becoming the first Kiwi to win a gold medal World Winter Universiade games.

The Waikato University scholar showed her prowess during the first run of the international competition's snowboard slopestyle finals on Saturday in Italy to achieve an excellent score of 81.25 out of 100.

Ms Good, 23, said the "odds were definitely against me" competing with no coach and limited training due to study and work commitments to pay for the self-funded trip.

"I was just so thrilled and so surprised," she told the Waikato Times from Italy last night. I wasn't expecting to win at all.

"Getting over here was such a mission in itself. It was a completely self-funded trip and we just have such a small team . . . I was the only one without a coach and the only one without a physio. All the other teams went all out for it so I was just the only person at the top of the course representing New Zealand."

The University of Waikato representative was three points ahead of her closest competitor Carla Somaini (78.25), of Switzerland, and seven points ahead of Caroline Hoeckel (74.15,) also from Switzerland.

Ms Good is the first Kiwi to claim a gold medal at the Winter Universiade.

She said she decided to do a safe, clean first run in the final because the course was icy and the jumps were "a bit funny".

"I landed it clean and got a really good score because everything was done perfectly, I guess."

She fell on the second run attempting her "good trick" but her first run was enough to secure the win.

The goal in Snowboard slopestyle is to perform the most difficult tricks while getting the greatest height off of jumps.

Ms Good is doing a double degree in law and finance with the help of a Sir Edmund Hillary Scholarship, granted to high academic achievers who also shine in the arts or sports.

She said she will complete her degree in six months and had been unsure whether she would continue competing at a high level or pursue another career.

"This win has inspired me to do a few more world cups and pursue my snowboarding a lot more."

The New Zealand team celebrated with a bottle of wine, beers and pizza.

The Winter Universiade is an international sporting and cultural festival staged every two years in a different city. It is second only to the Olympic Games. The Trentino 2013 Winter Universaide was the largest in history with 1725 athletes from 51 nations competing across 79 events.

Ms Good has had a number of national successes in snowboarding over the past four years with wins across the NZ Winter University Games, Mt Ruapehu Freestyle Series, Auckland Big Air, Methvan Big Air and Snow Planet Freestyle Series.

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She has also made placings in international competitions including Billabong Flaunt it in Canada, Telus Slopestyle Series in Whistler and World Winter Universiade in China.

She planned to train hard "with the ultimate goal being to compete in the 2018 Winter Olympics."

- © Fairfax NZ News

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