China’s new favourite Olympic athlete, 18-year-old freestyle skier Eileen Gu, begins a quest for what she hopes will probably be her second gold medal, this time in slopestyle.
Gu, who grew up in California however competes for China, is a favourite within the occasion, the place rivals ski by means of a mountain course of rails and obstacles earlier than navigating a sequence of three huge jumps.
Qualifiers for the occasion had been initially scheduled for Sunday, however excessive winds and uncommon blizzard situations pushed them to Monday. Finals are on Tuesday.
Gu already has one gold medal, in big air, earned in a dramatic, come-from-behind style final Tuesday at an industrial park in western Beijing. Her win catapulted her to a different stage of fame and scrutiny. Afterward, she deftly answered questions from reporters for greater than an hour whereas swiping away probing queries about her citizenship standing.
The Olympics have a coverage that athletes should be residents of the nation for which they compete, and China doesn’t permit twin citizenship.
Gu, whose mom was born and raised in China and who maintains ties to Beijing, is a ubiquitous determine right here. Her face graces ads of all types, and her exploits obtain fixed consideration on state-run information channels.
Slopestyle is an occasion that fits Gu, who confirmed technical prowess on the rails at a younger age, working with the U.S. nationwide workforce (she switched to China in 2019). She is a daring jumper, as her huge air victory demonstrated.
In a smattering of worldwide competitions over the previous yr, Gu has received or completed second in each slopestyle occasion. Her largest menace in Beijing is prone to come from Kelly Sildaru of Estonia and Tess Ledeux of France. It was Ledeux who led the massive air occasion till Gu’s ultimate leap dropped her to silver.
Gu’s third and ultimate competitors will probably be on Friday within the halfpipe, one other occasion she has dominated over the previous yr. Her reputation has soared already, and it’s laborious to think about simply how huge she will probably be if she manages to depart Beijing — on her manner house to San Francisco — with three gold medals.