ZHANGJIAKOU, China (AP) — Trying for three gold medals in one Olympics is a hectic business. So it was no surprise that Eileen Gu was a skier in a hurry Monday.
China’s burgeoning freestyle superstar munched on a fried leek dumpling while she awaited her score in the slopestyle contest. It came up. She had made it through qualifying. And then she rushed over to practice on the halfpipe, where the contest starts later this week.
After a mistake-filled trip down the supesized slopestyle course that put her qualifying in jeopardy, Gu nailed the second one. She munched on her dumpling while waiting for the score to pop up. With skiers still on the course, her mark of 79.38 placed her comfortably among the top 12 who will move into Tuesday’s final.
“Qualifiers are way scarier for me than finals,” Gu said. “I mean, in finals, the pressure’s off and I just have to go do my thing.”
The perfect follow-up might have been to ask the 18-year-old Gu what it is, exactly, that gives her trouble in these qualifiers. She fell once during big air preliminaries and had to nail a pressure-packed third jump to ensure her spot in the final, where she went on to capture the gold medal.
But before anyone had a chance, she pointed straight ahead.
“Behind you, guys, halfpipe training is going on, I’m supposed to be there,” she said. “I’m already late. I get like half the amount of practice everybody else has so I’m really sorry I can’t.”
Gu has a chance to take over the final week of the Olympics. Born in the United States and competing for her mother’s home country of China, Gu has been dominating the airwaves on commercials, and on the mountain. She is trying to become the first action-sports star to win three medals at the same Olympics.
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