Eileen Gu makes more history, wins second gold medal at Aspen worlds
She also won Friday’s halfpipe skiing contest
Eileen Gu needed less than two months to go from “Who is she?” to having a resume worthy of sainthood in the freeskiing universe.
The 17-year-old from California, who represents her mother’s homeland of China in competition, is collecting gold medals at an unprecedented rate, including another one Saturday in the women’s freeski slopestyle final in the world championships at Buttermilk Ski Area in Aspen.
Add the win to the gold she took home Friday in the women’s halfpipe skiing contest, and she is the first freeskier to win two gold medals at the same world championships.
“I had low expectations, but again, exceeded them and I’m super happy,” Gu said. “It feels absolutely insane to me. Being able to ski every event or being able to be a well-rounded skier has always been really important. I don’t really want to think of myself as a halfpipe skier or slopestyle skier. I just want to be a skier.”
Back in January, Gu made her X Games Aspen debut and essentially cleaned house, winning both slopestyle and halfpipe gold to go with bronze in big air. It’s helped that two of her top competitors, Canada’s Cassie Sharpe and Estonia’s Kelly Sildaru, have been out with injury, but that hardly takes away from the dominance being shown by the future Stanford student.
In windy, challenging conditions Saturday, Gu scored 84.23 on her first run of three runs in finals and that was enough to hold on for the win. Switzerland’s Mathilde Gremaud took silver with 77.15 and Canada’s Megan Oldham won bronze with 76.18. France’s Tess Ledeux, the 2017 slopestyle world champion, was fourth with 74.95. There was no 2019 world champion after weather canceled the contest in Utah.
“It was super windy today. A lot of girls had to push through really tough conditions, so big shout-out to everybody,” Gu said. “I took a big-ish fall during training and it shook up my confidence a little bit. I wasn’t sure how good I was going to feel during the contest. But to come back and be able to land my full run makes me really, really proud of myself to push through that pressure and self-doubt.”
Park City’s Marin Hamill, 19, was the lone American to make the eight-woman slopestyle skiing final. She had three decent runs, her best score coming on her second with 71.18 to place fifth. This was her first world championship appearance.
“It’s super motivating to be pushed by other girls,” Hamill said. “It was really fun. I had a great time in training today, just lapping on the sleds. I didn’t ski that well in my runs, as well as I would want to, but still had a blast until the wind came.”
Many of these same athletes should also ski in the big air competition at worlds, the only remaining discipline still to compete after Saturday. The snowboard big air qualifiers are scheduled for Sunday, weather permitting, while the freeski big air qualifiers for both men and women are Monday.
All big air finals are scheduled for Tuesday at Buttermilk.
Gu will be among those competing in big air at worlds, where she’ll look to add to her growing collection of medals.
“To be able to do both of those events in such a short time frame and to be able to walk away with gold from both makes me really, really proud of myself,” she said. “I’ve worked so, so unbelievably hard for this. I’m so grateful for all the support I’ve received.”
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Break out the neon windbreakers and the ski jeans for the last week of the at Snowmass: the lifts stop turning at the end of the day April 25.