Eileen Gu Easily Qualifies at Freeski Halfpipe, Advances to Finals

Eileen Gu, already two Olympic medalists in Beijing, turned her ambitions to the freeski section on Thursday. She improved her score even more on her second run, with 95.5.

Gu, the California athlete competing for China, believes the halfpipe is the best of her three events. She won gold in a major tournament and almost missed another match in sloppy style, settle for silver.

A women’s field of 20 qualifiers will be ranked for the 12 finalists. Men’s halfpipe freeski standards must be followed.

Opponents were given only two chances, with a better score. The women’s final is scheduled for Friday morning (Thursday night in the United States), and the men’s final is scheduled for a later date.

Gu’s competition included her top competitor, Kelly Sildaru of Estonia, the only woman left to compete in all three events (big air, slestyle, halfpipe). Sildaru, the bronze medalist in figure skating, scored 87.5 on his first run, keeping a spot in the final.

The United States has a strong team, led by 17-year-old Hanna Faulhaber, who finished fourth at last year’s world championships, and Brita Sigourney, who won an Olympic bronze medal four years ago. Both opened with confident runs that put them near the top of the leaderboard.

Men’s competitions are next scheduled at Genting Snow Park, and the mid-season event looks to be a wide one. Two-time gold medalist David Wise of the United States still has what it takes to win, but he finds himself in a deep pool of competition, including fellow Americans like Birk Irving, Alex Ferreira and Aaron Blunck. Gus Kenworthy, a former teammate and three-time silver medalist in 2014, currently drives for England. Eileen Gu Easily Qualifies at Freeski Halfpipe, Advances to Finals

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