GlobalTimes. With International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach’s applause and the cheering of flag-waving audience, China’s 18-year-old freestyle skier Gu Ailing, also known as Eileen Gu, with hands on her head and a look of excitement, was crowned as the champion of Women’s Freeski Big Air final at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games.
The precious gold not only brings Team China to the top of the current Olympic medal table, with three gold medals, it is also a historic achievement as it is China’s first women’s Olympic gold medal ever on snow sports.
“This is the best moment in my life, moment like this makes everything so worthy,” Gu said in a post-game interview and thanked the home audience for their support.
Gu finished fifth in the preliminary round on Monday to advance to the final. Some sports commentators played down expectations by saying the Freeski Big Air is not Gu’s strongest hand.
Gu’s performance was steady and faultless in the first two runs, giving her a good score for a podium finish.
On her final run, which has made Chinese spectators breathless, Gu nailed a double cork 1620, with unprecedented difficulty, to take over the first spot, surpassing the Mathilde Gremaud of Switzerland who finished third and Tess Ledeux of France who got the Silver.
Besides the fierce competition, the adorable post-game moment touched many people’s hearts. Gu and Gremaud were consoling Tess Ledeux. “Such class, compassion and camaraderie amongst these athletes … You love to see it,” said Associate Editor of The Athletic Lukas Weese on Twitter.
Gu’s gold medal also inspired Chinese netizens on Sina Weibo, in which discussions about Gu exploded with over 220 million reads and millions of comments soon after her historic victory.
“Congratulations! No one can stop a genius who tries her best to challenge herself,” said a Weibo user.
“Every time I see her on TV, she’s smiling and confident and optimistic, which is really inspiring to us,” said another.
Gu is also favored to win gold medals in the upcoming Women’s Freeski Slopestyle and Women’s Freeski Halfpipe skiing events at Beijing 2022.
Beijing has provided the perfect court conditions and the weather has been perfect over the past few days, with perfect visibility, light and wind, bringing out the best in the players, a Beijing-based sports commentator told the Global Times on Tuesday.
“All the elite athletes were trying to do the higher difficulty, and only Gu’s challenge succeeded. That is why she is the champion … this gold will accumulate a psychological advantage of Gu for the next two events,” the commentator said.
“They are not only athletes but also the best girls on the planet in skiing … their sensational performances will promote the public participation in the winter sports, their happiness to constantly push the limits will be passed to the audience who can feel the charm of ice and snow,” said a netizen.
“It is the pure love that makes her go from amateur to Olympic champion!” said the commentator.