Eileen Gu soars to gold in halfpipe to claim third medal of Games

With the roar of home fans cheering her on, China’s Eileen Gu cruised to victory in the women’s freestyle skiing halfpipe final on Friday, claiming her second gold medal at the Beijing Olympics.

Gu, who has become the popular face of the Beijing Games, was in full command of the contest from the start, soaring above the pipe higher than any other skier as she nailed back-to-back 900s with advanced midair grabs.

Gu wiped away a tear after she scored 95.25 in her second monster run, which virtually assured her the title and became her best score of the day.

With the gold medal already secure, the 18-year-old skier hugged her mother and her coach at the top of the pipe before dropping into her third and final run.

“I’m super happy about the result, I did my best,” Gu, beaming with pride, told reporters.

The San Francisco-born skier, who competed for the U.S. team when she was younger but switched to compete for China in 2019, had said that her goal was to reach the podium in all three of her events.

Gu has achieved that goal, picking up gold in Big Air, silver in slopestyle before nabbing yet another gold at Friday’s halfpipe.

The stands at the Genting Snow Park in Zhangjiakou, normally sparsely filled due to the pandemic, was packed with fans who began chanting Gu’s name even before she dropped into the course.

A large crowd of Team China staff bundled up in white and red puffer jackets unfurled the national flag at the bottom of the halfpipe, while others waved blue placards bearing Gu’s name in Chinese.

Canada’s Cassie Sharpe, who won gold in the event in Pyeongchang four years ago settled for silver with her highest score of 90.75, while fellow Canadian Rachael Karker took bronze with her best run of 87.75.

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