Wanaka snowboarder Zoi Sadowski Synnott achieving her dreams
Wanaka Snowboarder Zoi Sadowski Synnott, 16, was gobsmacked by an international sponsorship offer, just days before she competes in a World Cup slopestyle competition at the Winter Games NZ.
A repeat of her winning world cup final performance in the Czech Republic in March will bolster her chances of selection to compete at the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea.
The women's World Cup snowboard slopestyle event is being hosted by Cardrona Alpine Resort on September 4.
There are at least 40 athletes on the start list, including X-Games silver medallist and Olympian Christy Prior, of New Zealand.
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Natalie Good and Corrah Phillips round out the four women Kiwi contingent entered in the event.
Sadowski Synnott performed strongly during her first world cup circuit earlier this year, also bringing home a silver and bronze medal to go with her world cup gold.
She is the third Kiwi in history, following Juliane Bray in 2001 and Prior in 2014, to win a snowboard World Cup event.
This week, Red Bull presented Sadowski Synnott with a special helmet, making her just the second snowsports athlete in the outfits New Zealand table of just 12 high performance athletes.
Speaking at Cardrona, where she has been practising for next week's event, she said the deal gave her confidence and made her feel like part of a family.
"It makes me feel really excited because I know my career is just starting. It is just a stepping stone and I am going to be a part of it for a long time . . . When I first started snowboarding it was the dream, aside from competing at the Olympics," she said.
She is the third Wanaka athlete to join the team, alongside freeskier Nico Porteous, 15, and triathlete Braden Currie.
Red Bull has 39 athletes from around the world competing at the Winter Games in Queenstown and Wanaka.