Eileen Gu wins debut of freeski big air at 2022 Winter Olympics

Eileen Gu (also known as Ailing Gu) wins gold for China in the Olympic debut of freeski big air
Getty Images
0 Comments

The debut of women’s freeski big air at the 2022 Winter Olympics featured perhaps the best showing of women’s freeskiing in history.

The first hint of what was going to be unleashed came in the first run when Eileen Guwho was born in San Francisco but represents China – landed a massive 1440.

But she wasn’t done impressing. And neither were her competitors.

In freeski big air, athletes are ranked based on their two best scores in three runs, though the two scoring runs must be different tricks.

After Gu, Tess Ledeux – the reigning X Games champion in both freeski big air and slopestyle – landed a double cork 1620 for the second time in her career. That’s four-and-a-half rotations, the most rotations ever seen in women’s freeskiing.

In the second run, Switzerland’s Mathilde Gremaud elevated the gauntlet with a huge double cork 1440.

At the end of two runs, Gu found herself in bronze-medal position with nothing to lose and Ledeux and Gremaud still to come.

“I was thinking, ‘Should I improve on my previous one and go for the silver, or should I whip out this random trick I’d never done before and go for gold?” Gu recounted. “I wanted to represent myself and this competitive style that I really take pride in – and that desire to push myself and push the sport.”

So Gu attempted her own double cork 1620 – for her first time ever in competition – and stomped it.

“I am not crying, I am definitely not crying,” she said in the finish area while waiting for her scores to come down.

Video of Eileen Gu’s massive double cork 1620 in the final run of women’s freeski big air at the 2022 Winter Olympics:

https://twitter.com/NBCOlympics/status/1490884208616787968?s=20&t=6Ae00dRT8ZMJGyuSXp-G9Q

Ledeux wasn’t able to match it and the 20-year-old French skier was clearly distraught in the finish area after her silver medal was confirmed.

Gremaud claimed bronze, her second Olympic medal after winning slopestyle silver in PyeongChang.

“Everyone was just giving it all, and it ended up being the sickest event that there ever was in women’s big air,” the Swiss skier said. “Everyone was pushing, and coming up with new things.”

Gu credited her competitors with pushing her to attempt the 1620.

“I landed [my final attempt] because of them,” she said. “We all have the same goal to push the sport and do our personal best on that day.”

Freestyle Skiing - Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics Day 4
BEIJING, CHINA – China’s Eileen Gu (also known as Gu Ailing) competes in the final of women’s freestyle skiing big air at the 2022 Winter Olympics. (Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)

Gu is the first woman to win gold for China in a freestyle skiing event. At age 18, 158 days, she is also the youngest athlete from China to win a gold medal at the Winter Olympics, according to Olympedia.org.

The win is also a major full circle moment for Gu – who is known as Gu Ailing in China.

“When I was nine years old I pitched the idea of a slopestyle competition in China,” she said after big air qualifying. “I competed in it and won it and now I’m competing in the first big air in Olympic history in China, so it really is a full circle moment.”

Gu is also expected to be a top medal threat in women’s slopestyle and halfpipe at these 2022 Winter Olympics.

Full Results from the Women’s Freeskiing Big Air Final at the 2022 Winter Olympics: 

Rank Name Run 1 Run 2 Run 3 Best 2 Scores
1 Eileen Gu (CHN) 93.75 (2) 88.50 (4) 94.50 (1) 188.25
2 Tess Ledeux (FRA) 94.50 (1) 93.00 (2) 73.50 (6) 187.50
3 Mathilde Gremaud (SUI) 89.25 (4) 93.25 (1) 26.00 (10) 182.50
4 Megan Oldham (CAN) 85.00 (6) 89.25 (3) 88.75 (2) 178.00
5 Kirsty Muir (GBR) 90.25 (3) 78.75 (5) 15.50 (12) 169.00
6 Sarah Hoefflin (SUI) 82.50 (7) 53.00 (9) 76.25 (5) 158.75
7 Johanne Killi (NOR) 87.75 (5) 58.50 (7) 65.50 (7) 153.25
8 Olivia Asselin (CAN) 62.00 (10) 60.25 (6) 85.50 (3) 147.50
9 Anni Karava (FIN) 81.00 (8) 54.00 (8) 82.50 (4) 136.50
10 Anastasia Tatalina (ROC) 75.50 (9) 22.25 (11) 47.00 (9) 122.50
11 Darian Stevens (USA) 56.75 (11) 50.75 (10) 18.25 (11) 75.00
12 Sandra Eie (NOR) 17.00 (12) 19.00 (12) 64.50 (8) 64.50

This story will continue to be updated.

Follow Alex Azzi on Twitter @AlexAzziNBC