Snow Sports New Zealand awarded extra funding to help boost female participation

Snow Sports New Zealand has been given a huge funding boost to help strengthen the number of girls and women involved. 

At the moment there's a lack of female coaches, mentors and upcoming athletes, with some admitting they have been given no support and funding is well overdue. 

Zoi Sadowski-Synnott is the young Kiwi woman who put Snow Sports New Zealand on top of the world.

And the organisation's hope of developing more athletes like her has been given a big lift, with an additional $450,000 from Sport NZ to drive an initiative to better support women in the sport.

Zoi Sadowski-Synnott at the Beijing Winter Olympics.
Zoi Sadowski-Synnott at the Beijing Winter Olympics. Photo credit: Getty Images

"Having the accessibility for young kids, who wouldn't have the opportunity to try snowboarding and skiing otherwise, would be cool," Sadowski-Synnott told Newshub.

Laura Wotton knows how hard it is to be a female on the slopes.

As a slopestyle skier, she's been involved in the sport since she was young and has experienced first-hand a lack of support, inclusion and value. 

She believes it's why so many girls drop out. 

"The biggest change, in my opinion that needs to happen, is the culture of the male attitudes towards female athletes," she said. 

"Part of it is just the lack of females that are in it. It's not a very big community, so it's hard to find that fellowship to be encouraged and stay with it."

Securing more female coaches is one way the cash could be used, but Wotton hopes it will also help athletes financially. 

She's funded her own career by working three to five jobs to help chase her Olympic dream.

But unfortunately for some, it's come too late. 

Olympian freestyle skier Britt Hawes competed in the 2018 Winter Olympics but quit the sport right after. 

"Given the [right] support, I think I would have reached a higher potential," she told Newshub.

"I think when I finished the PyeongChang games, I didn't top because I didn't want to compete, but because it was just too tiring."

Others are relieved to see the funding, in the hopes of finding another Sadowski-Synnott.

"It's well overdue," added Wotton. "I'm really proud of Snow Sports New Zealand.

"I wish this had come into place when I was 13 or 14. Maybe back then, I would have got the support I needed instead of now, finally, at 24."

Whatever way the money is used, it's hoped more Kiwi women will be visible on the slopes.