Chinese freestyle skier Gu Ailing makes Olympic debut at Beijing 2022
Published: Feb 07, 2022 04:27 PM
Photo: Li Hao/GT

Photo: Li Hao/GT

The 18-year-old Chinese skier Gu Ailing, also known as Eileen Gu, completed her debut at the  Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games on Monday, successfully qualifying to compete for another medal for Team China on Tuesday. 

Gu debuted at the Women's Freeski Big Air Qualification at Big Air Shougang in Beijing. She finished the first round with a score of 89, ranking third. The performance was quickly cheered on Chinese social media.

But during the second round, Gu failed to show her full capabilities with a more difficult move and only earned 24.50 points, ranking at 16th place. Fortunately, Gu recovered during the third round, leading her to achieve a final score of 161.25, placing her at 4th place and allowing her to move on to the finals. 

When talking about her mistake during the second round after the competition, Gu said that the wind begun to blow while she was making her second jump, resulting in her losing momentum and falling. She noted that the mistake left her stressed during the last round. 

The athlete said that she would have been deeply unsatisfied if she hadn't qualified for the finals. 

Another Chinese athlete Yang Shuorui also attended to the qualification, but did not qualify to the final. 

Gu's Olympic debut made her one of the shining stars on Chinese social media on Monday. Even though she fell during the second round, many netizens left encouraging messages and commented that her reaction after the mistake was "adorable."

Netizens noticed that Gu wore a black coat with a golden dragon on the back while attending the competition. The athlete explained that she designed the coat herself and that the dragon design refers to "a dragon among humans," meaning an outstanding person.

Gu noted that she is trying to introduce Chinese cultural elements to the world through skiing.

Under her various social media accounts, Chinese netizens left encouraging messages to express their faith in her performance.

Praised by many as energetic, persevering and talented, Gu inspired countless people worldwide as she skied her way into the Olympic Games.

Gu will go for the gold at the Women's Freeski Big Air, Women's Freeski Slopestyle and Women's Freeski Halfpipe skiing events at Beijing 2022.

One of Gu's strongest opponents is Swiss athlete Gremaud Mathilde, who completed several moves of higher difficulty than Gu during training. The French skier Tess Ledeux, who ranked first worldwide at the event, is another of Gu's strong rivals for the gold. Ledeux's quadruple axel jump helped her win the world championship in January 2022.

Gu will most likely compete at the final for the Women's Freeski Halfpipe, which experts predict she has the highest chances of winning, on February 18. She will have an unavoidable confrontation with two strong competitors, the 29-year-old Canadian Cassie Sharpe and 20-year-old Kelly Sildaru from Estonia.

Compared with the halfpipe event, starting from Sunday Gu will face more challenges on the women's slopestyle, where her rivals will include Sildaru and Ledeux.

Born in San Francisco to a US father and a Chinese mother, Gu claimed 50 golds at various events by the age of 14. After she joined Team China in 2019, the free skier won two golds and one bronze at the International Ski Federation (FIS) Snowboard and Freeski World Championships in 2021.

Before heading to the Beijing Olympic Winter Games, Gu bagged a slew of medals, including six golds in nine competitions in a mere 37 days after she recovered from the injuries she got on December 2, 2021.

Global Times