Eileen Gu easily qualifies for the Freeski Halfpipe and advances to the final
Eileen Gu, already a two-time Olympic medalist in Beijing, shifted her ambitions to the freeski halfpipe on Thursday.
Her first of two qualifying races for the event scored 93.75, propelling her to the top of the pack and securing her a shot at another medal. She improved her score again in the second set, with a 95.5.
Gu, the Californian competing for China, considers the halfpipe the best of her three events. She had already won gold in big air and just missed another in slopestyle, settling for silver.
Qualifying reduces the women’s field to 12 finalists. The women’s final is scheduled for Friday morning (Thursday night in the US).
Each skier got two chances, only the best score counting.
Gu’s competition included her main rival, Kelly Sildaru of Estonia, the only other woman to compete in all three events (big air, slopestyle, halfpipe). Sildaru, who won bronze in the slopestyle, scored 87.5 in her first run to secure a spot in the final.
The United States had a strong contingent, led by 17-year-old Hanna Faulhaber, who finished fourth at the world championships last year, and Brita Sigourney, who won Olympic bronze four years ago. Both started with confident runs that put them near the top of the standings.
The men’s qualifier followed the women’s at Genting Snow Park on Thursday, and American Aaron Blunck led the field with a score of 92. He was followed by teammates Birk Irving, who came third, and David Wise, who came fourth. The other American, Alex Ferreira, placed seventh. The men’s final will take place on Saturday.