Mia Brookes becomes snowboarding world champion at 16
British teenager Mia Brookes is still in a state of shock after her coronation as the youngest world champion in snowboarding history.
The 16-year-old was too young to qualify for the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, but on Monday laid down a global marker in stunning style to beat double defending champion Zoi Sadowski-Synnott to slopestyle gold in Bakuriani, Georgia.
Brookes’ momentous morning was made even sweeter by how she got to the top of the podium, with a stomping second run that also saw her become the first woman to ever land a competition CAB 1440 double grab.
“It’s like I’m in a dream,” she told the PA news agency. “Like I’m just waiting for someone to wake me up. But, honestly, I can’t believe what happened today. Like, I wouldn’t have even imagined it last night. Obviously I wanted to win, but yeah, it’s crazy.
“It’s pretty insane to be able to say that I’m not only world champion, but the youngest world champion. I would never have guessed it last week when we first came into training.
“I’m almost at the end of my school year. Like, just coming up to GCSEs now. It’s hard balancing it all, but when something like this happens, it makes you feel so great. It’s pretty mad to say you’re a world champion and still finishing up your GCSEs.”
Born in Sandbach, Cheshire, only child Brookes spent months travelling Europe with parents Vicky and Nigel in the family motorhome and first stepped on a snowboard aged 18 months.
By the time she was 10, Brookes was scouted by GB Snowsport coaches in Laax, Switzerland, who invited the prodigious athlete to join the team’s development squad.
She placed second on her senior debut in Corvatsch, Switzerland at the December 2020 Europa Cup. Last month, in her first season on the World Cup circuit, she claimed silver in the same Swiss region where it all started.
If that podium closed a full circle, Monday’s victory blasted open a seemingly limitless road ahead, with the 2026 Milano-Cortina Winter Olympics an ever-closer stop on the snowboarder’s journey.
Before she was beating New Zealand’s Sadowski-Synnott- who walked away from Beijing with slopestyle gold and big air silver – she was admiring the Kiwi rider, who she still cites as a “hero”, but Brookes’ biggest inspiration is Jamie Anderson, the two-time Olympic and eight-time X Games champion.
Brooks earned her first X Games invitation earlier this year just weeks after her 16th birthday – finishing sixth – and is still getting used to the idea that she is now not just mingling with some of her one-time idols, but challenging them for titles.
She said: “Obviously coming into the World Cup circuit my mind was blown with all the girls that were at the Olympics that were going to be there. [I thought] the standard is going to be so high. It is a high standard, but after my second competition I was like, ‘This is possible, if I just work a little bit harder I can be on top’. And it worked.”
Brookes’ global gold was her first competition without either parent present, a far cry from cooking curry with Vicky in the close quarters of the campervan, particularly after GB were one of several teams whose trip started with their kit getting lost in transit, eventually arriving two days after the athletes.
Those sort of challenges are another experience Brookes is coming to terms with. Her next one is learning how to drive, so she can quite literally take the wheel of her own destiny.
That Brookes may have already begun to inspire other girls is almost as mind-blowing to the athlete as the global gold medal was.
She added: “It definitely feels pretty insane to think about that. To me, I’m literally just Mia from the UK.”