China’s Eileen Gu wins gold in freeski halfpipe to make Olympic historical past

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The 18-year-old famous person topped the rostrum within the halfpipe closing at Zhangjiakou’s Genting Snow Park, including to her gold in the big air event final week and silver in slopestyle on Tuesday.

Gu, who says halfpipe is her strongest occasion, dominated from the beginning.

Many times, she sped up the wall of the halfpipe and launched herself skyward, spinning and twisting gracefully to loud cheers from followers within the stands.

Already firmly within the lead, she outdid herself within the second run with a formidable rating of 95.25. She was already assured of the gold by the point she set off on a 3rd run victory lap.

Gu gave her coach a giant hug on the high of the slope, got here down the halfpipe as soon as once more and completed the journey with simple jumps, posing and celebrating her victory in midair.

“I’ve by no means taken a victory lap earlier than in my complete life, so I felt like, ‘You understand what, final occasion on the Olympics it seems like I lastly deserve it’. I am actually pleased,” Gu told reporters after her win, in accordance with the Olympic web site.

“It has been two straight weeks of probably the most intense highs and lows I’ve ever skilled in my life. It has modified my life eternally,” she mentioned.

China's Eileen Gu made Winter Olympics history on Friday by winning her third freeski medal.

Reflecting on her first and history-making Olympic Video games, Gu mentioned her overriding emotion was a “deep-seated sense of gratitude and backbone.”

“Similar to this all coming collectively, years and years within the making and it is like letting out a deep breath. I really feel exhausted. I imply, God, from opening ceremony till now I have been snowboarding each single day so I am actually drained, however I really feel at peace. I really feel grateful. I really feel passionate, and I really feel proud,” she mentioned.

Canada’s Cassie Sharpe claimed silver with a finest rating of 90.75, together with her teammate Rachael Karker taking bronze. An emotional Gu embraced each of them as they posed for pictures after occasion.

She additionally wore a panda hat as she obtained her Bing Dwen Dwen reproduction mascot on the rostrum, inflicting a stir amongst her followers on Chinese language social media.

A breakout star

The Beijing 2022 Olympics have been a breakthrough second for Gu as she turned one of many greatest stars of the Video games.

Born and raised in California, Gu selected in 2019 to compete for China, the place she is called Gu Ailing. Within the lead-up to the Video games, her recognition skyrocketed, together with her face splashed throughout billboards, commercials, journal covers and on state tv.

And for the reason that Video games received underway, she has develop into a nationwide sensation, incomes greater than 5 million followers on social media web site Weibo.

Eileen Gu is the poster child for a new type of Chinese athlete. But one wrong move could send her tumbling

She was hailed because the “pleasure of China” after profitable her first gold, and has since gained extra medals than anybody else for Crew China at these Video games. Following her closing victory within the halfpipe, China now boasts eight gold medals — the identical as the USA (though China’s complete medal rely lags behind the US.)

However Gu has performed down the nationwide rivalry within the sport.

“One factor I like a lot about freeskiing is that this camaraderie and this spirit of help wherein it is not about what nation you are snowboarding for, it is about our shared ardour for the game and this distinctive means for this excessive sport to unite individuals as a result of we’re not right here to interrupt limits for a rustic, we’re right here to interrupt the human restrict,” she mentioned.

“It isn’t about nationality, it is about bringing individuals collectively. It is about sharing tradition. It is about studying from one another and forging friendships.”

Although Gu switched to compete for China, it is unclear whether or not she renounced her American citizenship — often a requirement for Chinese language naturalization, for the reason that nation doesn’t enable twin citizenship. She has repeatedly dodged questions on her citizenship whereas highlighting her twin id, typically saying: “After I’m in China, I am Chinese language. After I’m within the US, I am American.”

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