China's Eileen Gu clinches second gold in halfpipe
ZHANGJIAKOU, CHINA (REUTERS) - With the roar of home fans cheering her on, China's Eileen Gu cruised to victory in the women's freestyle skiing halfpipe final on Friday (Feb 18), claiming her second gold medal at the Winter Olympics.
Gu, who has become the popular face of the Beijing Games, was in full command of the contest from the start, soaring above the pipe higher than any other skier as she nailed back-to-back 900s with advanced mid-air grabs.
She wiped away a tear after she scored 95.25 points in her second monster run, which virtually assured her the title and became her best score of the day.
Her gold medal locked down, the 18-year-old skier hugged her mother and her coach at the top of the pipe before dropping into her third and final run.
"I'm super happy about the result, I did my best," Gu, beaming with pride, told reporters.
The San Francisco-born skier, who competed for the United States team when she was younger but switched to compete for China in 2019, had said that her goal was to reach the podium at all three of her freeski events.
Gu has managed just that, picking up gold in Big Air, silver in slopestyle and nabbing yet another gold at Friday's halfpipe.
The stands at the Genting Snow Park in Zhangjiakou, normally sparsely filled due to the pandemic, was packed with fans who began chanting Gu's name even before she dropped into the course.
A large crowd of Team China staff bundled up in white and red puffer jackets unfurled the national flag at the bottom of the halfpipe, while others waved blue placards bearing Gu's name in Chinese.
Canada's Cassie Sharpe, who won gold in the event in Pyeongchang four years ago, settled for silver with her highest score of 90.75, while fellow Canadian Rachael Karker took bronze with her best run of 87.75.