Gu continues to impress at Buttermilk, makes slopestyle ski finals at worlds
Coming off her breakthrough rookie performance at X Games Aspen in January, Eileen Gu is showing it was no fluke with her performance so far at world championships.
The California teen, who represents her mother’s homeland of China in competition and won three medals in three events at X Games, was the top qualifier in Thursday’s women’s slopestyle skiing competition at Buttermilk Ski Area. She scored 84.51 on the second of her two runs, well ahead of Utah’s Marin Hamill, who qualified second with 75.78.
Gu also qualified for the women’s halfpipe skiing final, scheduled for Friday.
“I love Aspen so much, especially coming out of X Games, and I mean the courses here and the course builders are absolutely amazing,” Gu said. “There is a chance of snow on finals day, so I definitely do have to take weather and safety into account, but if it’s like today definitely look out for some doubles, step ups on the rails and a whole lot of fun.”
Qualifying third on Thursday was Switzerland’s Mathilde Gremaud (75.50), in fourth Canada’s Megan Oldham (72.85), fifth Great Britain’s Kirsty Muir (70.43), sixth France’s Tess Ledeux (69.23), seventh Austria’s Lara Wolf (62.55) and in eighth Norway’s Sandra Eie (61.55).
Ledeux is the reigning world champion, having won in 2017. The 2019 contest in Utah was canceled due to weather.
In total, 22 athletes competed in the qualifier with two notables who did not start. Switzerland’s Sarah Hoefflin and Montana’s Maggie Voisin, who both would have been considered gold-medal contenders, were late drops.
Hall, Stevenson lead American men in qualifying
The Utah duo of Alex Hall and Colby Stevenson finished first and third, respectively, in the second of two qualifying heats on Thursday and will be the lone Americans in Saturday’s men’s slopestyle skiing final at worlds.
Switzerland’s Andri Ragettli led the first heat with two strong runs (90.25 and 91), while Canada’s Evan McEachran (89.50) and Norway’s Birk Ruud (88.50) were second and third, respectively. New Zealand’s Finn Bilous (88), Sweden’s Oliwer Magnusson (87.5) and Sweden’s Jesper Tjader (86.50) also qualified into the 12-man final via the first heat.
“The course is dope. They switched it up from X Games, which is pretty sweet,” former X Games champ Hall said. “We’re riding some different rails and jumps, so it’s refreshing for sure. I think we all ran back-to-back-to-back so it’s just been squad laps all day and it’s been super fun.”
Joining Hall (92.25) and Stevenson (90.25) as qualifiers in the second heat are Great Britain’s James Woods (91.25), France’s Antoine Adelisse (87.75), Canada’s Max Moffat (86.75) and Switzerland’s Kim Gubser (86).
Woods is the reigning world champion, while Ruud won silver and American Nick Goepper bronze in 2019.
Notable names who did not make finals out of the 50-man qualifier include Norway’s Ferdinand Dahl and Sweden’s Henrik Harlaut. Colorado-born Gus Kenworthy did not start.
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Warm and dry conditions to start the winter have kept all but the higher elevation slopes free of snow. That is expected to change by the end of the week and the avalanche hazard could start to climb, according to Colorado Avalanche Information Center.