Eileen Gu Takes Silver in Slopestyle

ZHANGJIAKOU, China — Eileen Gu has a approach of attracting consideration, and a rising behavior of making dramatic impact.

Gu, the 18-year-old freestyle skier from California who’s competing for China, arrived on the slopestyle course on Tuesday, searching for a second gold medal at these Winter Video games.

Followers braved subzero temperatures to root her on, waving small flags and oohing with each one in every of her methods. Cameras and heads have been aimed in her course consistently. Commotion adopted her across the slope.

Simply as she did every week earlier when she received massive air in stirring, come-from-behind trend, Gu had an opportunity to win it ultimately. Simply as she did earlier than, she dealt with the stress and landed an enormous rating.

This time, although, Gu fell simply wanting the gold medal. She couldn’t fairly match the rating of Mathilde Gremaud of Switzerland, leaving Gu with a silver medal that didn’t appear to dent her enthusiasm or the spirits of these she has charmed.

“It actually got here right down to the final run — once more,” Gu mentioned, chewing on a steamed bun. “I don’t know why I preserve doing that to myself.”

She joked that it was particularly worrying for her mom, Yan Gu, who was raised in Beijing and migrated to the US about 30 years in the past. Eileen Gu was born and raised in California and introduced in 2019 that she would compete for China moderately than the US.

“I’m completely happy I used to be in a position to push by and switch that stress into gas, and it feels so, so good,” Gu mentioned. “My aim coming into the Olympics was to have one gold and have yet one more podium in a distinct occasion. I’ve already met that aim, and going into my strongest occasion.”

She rushed by interviews as a result of she was late to observe for that occasion, the halfpipe. {Qualifications} are scheduled for Thursday, and Gu is a favourite to win.

Gremaud’s victory over Gu and a deep area on the slopestyle course felt like a shock, even to her, nevertheless it shouldn’t have. She received the Olympic silver medal in 2018, however had been overshadowed this previous season by Gu and Gu’s greatest rival, Kelly Sildaru of Estonia. Sildaru earned the bronze.

Gremaud scored 86.56 on her second of three runs, in a contest the place solely the most effective rating issues. She then watched Gu, Sildaru and others get two possibilities to beat it. Nobody did.

“I undoubtedly didn’t count on that,” Gremaud mentioned. “Nevertheless it’s an amazing feeling now.”

Eleven freeskiing finalists took turns making an attempt to navigate the slopestyle course, which has proved itself a formidable foe throughout these Winter Video games.

The sequence of rails and obstacles adopted by three units of huge jumps, all inbuilt snow in a way to evoke the Nice Wall, has each dazzled and befuddled a number of the greatest skiers and snowboarders.

Gu landed a middling run the primary time, then fell off the third rail on her second try. When she took her ultimate flip, she was in eighth. She stood on the prime of the course, took a sequence of gradual, deep breaths, then plunged her hopes, and people of China, down the hill.

She hit trick after trick, together with a double cork 1080 off her center soar, reaching the end upright and with a smile. Followers rattled the plastic clappers that they had been handed — typically obeying pandemic-era directions to not open their masked-covered mouths to cheer — and watched her each transfer. Telephones and cameras have been pointed her approach.

In Gu’s rising shadow, Maggie Voisin of the US had hoped to quietly attain the rostrum. Nonetheless solely 23, Voisin was making her third Olympic look. In 2014, at 15, she was on the Video games in Sochi, Russia, however broke a leg in coaching earlier than the competitors. On the 2018 Video games, she completed fourth. She arrived in China hungry for a medal, having been by a pair of debilitating knee accidents and the suicide of her brother.

Voisin wore his Military canine tag beneath her uniform and a smile on her face after ending fifth.

“I’m nonetheless actually, actually happy with myself and what I used to be in a position to accomplish right here — a fifth place amongst all these unbelievable girls is a very nice outcome,” Voisin mentioned. “I knew that it was going to be powerful to crack the highest three, that’s for certain.”

She was fast to go with Gu, who spent a few years with the U.S. nationwide group earlier than asserting, in 2019, that she would compete for China, partly to assist construct the nation’s winter-sports market.

“That lady deserves all of it,” Voisin mentioned. “I’ve by no means met anybody that works as arduous as she does. She’s so devoted, so decided. I’m actually, actually completely happy for her.”

Gu is an rising world star and a ubiquitous presence on Chinese language tv throughout these Olympics. Referred to as Gu Ailing, her face appears to be in all places. Up to now 12 months, she additionally has develop into a mannequin for Tiffany & Firm, Louis Vuitton and different high-end retailers.

Up to now month or so, and principally previously week since she received massive air, the variety of Gu’s Instagram followers — principally within the West, hardly ever seen in China — has grown sixfold, to 1.1 million. She has way more followers on Weibo, a Chinese language web site akin to Twitter, the place she posts extra typically. On Tuesday morning, her account was approaching 5 million followers, practically 5 instances as many as she had at the beginning of the 12 months.

Her determination to compete for China has raised questions each there and in the US. China doesn’t permit twin citizenship, and Gu has dodged questions on whether or not she has surrendered her U.S. passport.

After successful a silver medal on Tuesday, Gu was requested if she felt she needed to compromise to do enterprise in China. As she did every week earlier than, she cheerfully swiped away the foundation of the pointed query, persevering with to soar over politics and controversy.

She mentioned that she didn’t take into account “snowboarding as a enterprise endeavor,” although she has roughly 20 endorsements in China alone.

“I really feel as if I take advantage of my voice as a lot as I can in matters which are related and private to myself and focused towards people who find themselves prepared to take heed to me,” she mentioned. “I’m additionally a teenage lady, so I do my greatest to make the world a greater place. And yeah, I’m having enjoyable whereas doing it.”

China is alongside for the journey. The love affair would solely deepen with yet one more medal — particularly one other gold one. activities/olympics/eileen-gu-skiing-slopestyle.html Eileen Gu Takes Silver in Slopestyle

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