China’s Eileen Gu wins gold in freeski halfpipe

The 18-year-old superstar topped the podium in the halfpipe final at Zhangjiakou’s Genting Snow Park, winning her gold in the big air event last week and silver in slopestyle on Tuesday.

Gu, who says the halfpipe is his strongest event, dominated from the start.

Over and over again, he raised the wall of the halfpipe and launched himself skyward, spinning and twisting, to loud cheers from fans in the stands.

Already firmly in the lead, she overtook herself in the second run with an impressive score of 95.25. He was assured of gold even before the third-run victory lap was set.

Gu gave his coach a big hug at the top of the slope, came down the half-pipe once again and ended the ride with an easy jump, kicking and celebrating his victory in mid-air.

“I’ve never taken a victory lap before in my entire life, so I was like, ‘You know what the last event in the Olympics is, looks like I finally deserve it’,” Gu told reporters. I’m really happy.” Her victory, according to the Olympic site.

“It’s been two straight weeks of the most intense ups and downs I’ve ever had in my life. It changed my life forever,” she said.

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

Reflecting on his first and history-making Olympic Games, Gu said his greatest feeling was a “deep sense of gratitude and determination.”

“Like it’s all coming together, years and years in the making and it’s like taking a deep breath. I feel exhausted. I mean, gosh, I’ve been skiing every single day since the opening ceremony So I’m really tired, but I feel at peace. I feel grateful. I feel passionate, and I feel proud,” she said.

Canada’s Cassie Sharp claimed the silver with a best score of 90.75, with her teammate Rachel Carker winning the bronze. An emotional Gu hugged the two and posed for a picture after the event.

He also wore a panda hat while receiving his Bing Dwayne Dwayne replica mascot on the podium, causing a stir among his fans on Chinese social media.

a breakout star

The Beijing 2022 Olympics have been a breakthrough moment for Gu as she became one of the biggest stars of the Games.

Born and raised in California, Gu chose to compete for China in 2019, where she is known as Gu Ailing. In the lead-up to the Games, his popularity skyrocketed, his face scattered on billboards, commercials, magazine covers, and state television.

And since the games go on, she has become a national sensation, garnering over 5 million fans on the social media site Weibo.

Eileen Gu is the poster child for a new kind of Chinese athlete.  But one wrong move can shake her up

He was hailed as the “Pride of China” after winning his first gold, and has since won more medals for Team China at these Games than anyone else. After its eventual victory in the halfpipe, China now boasts eight gold medals – the same as the United States (although China’s overall medal count lags behind the US.)

But Gu has undermined national rivalry in the game.

“One of the things I love a lot about freeskiing is that sense of camaraderie and support that doesn’t matter which country you’re skiing for, it’s our shared passion for the sport and what unites people. It’s about the unique potential of this extreme sport because we’re not here to break any nation’s borders, we’re here to break human boundaries.”

“It’s not about nationality, it’s about bringing people together. It’s about sharing culture. It’s about learning from each other and building friendships.”

Although Gu switched to compete for China, it is unclear whether he renounced his US citizenship – usually a requirement for Chinese naturalization, as the country does not allow dual citizenship. She has repeatedly avoided questions about her citizenship while highlighting her dual identity, often saying: “When I’m in China, I’m Chinese. When I’m in America, I’m American.”

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