Elaine Joe’s show moved to the mountains, like China’s new favorite Olympic athlete – an 18-year-old free skater from California The competition began in the second of its three events.
Gu used to build drama into her Olympic events, then followed a middle run for the first time in a slash style with a great second, to advance to the event final.
“Qualifiers are always scary,” she said afterwards, and headed to Half Pipe for a practice session, with a crowd of photographers and therapists behind her. She is scheduled to compete in the Half Pipe qualifiers on Thursday.
Gu, who grew up in California but competes in China, came up as the favorite in women’s snowboarding, the event in which runners skate across a mountainous track of rails and obstacles before setting sail in a series of three big jumps.
On a sunny but very cold Monday morning in Genting Snow Park, a day after the snow and wind postponed the event, Gu opened the qualifiers with a score of 57.28. By the time she was back on her final run, she was 11th, on the verge of not making the final.
With a temperature of minus 7 degrees Fahrenheit, I quietly put on a solid jog, then ate shao bing, a type of Chinese flatbread. Within minutes, she and Shao Bing had become a popular hashtag on Chinese social media.
I put it third with a score of 79.38. Gu smiled and sprinted about half the tube, settling comfortably into the tilt final scheduled for Tuesday morning (Monday evening in the US).
There were plenty of spills on the downhill track, which earlier snowboarders described as one of the toughest and most technical courses they’ve seen. Among those who did not qualify for the final was Switzerland’s Sarah Hoflin, gold-medal defender and three-time world champion.
Each of the twenty-seven competitors fought two runs scored by a panel of judges. Only the best score is counted. Kelly Seldaro of Estonia, considered to be Joe’s biggest competitor in this event, scored twice as strong for the highest qualifying score. Norway’s Johan Kelly came in second.
American Maggie Voisin, who finished fourth at the 2018 Winter Games, finished fourth. She first qualified for the Olympics in 2014, when she was 15, but she broke her leg during training in Sochi and did not compete.
Gu already has One gold medal in the big air, who got it in dramatic fashion, comes from behind last Tuesday in an industrial park in western Beijing. Her victory pushed her to another level of fame and scrutiny. After that, she deftly answered reporters’ questions for over an hour while deflecting inquiries about her citizenship status.
The Olympics has a policy that athletes must be citizens of the country for which they are competing, and China does not allow dual citizenship.
Gu, whose mother was born and raised in China and has ties to Beijing, is a ubiquitous figure here. Her face features advertisements of all kinds, and her exploits get constant attention on state-run news channels.
Her image of 500 drones lit up the sky In southern China after its big air win.
But Gu also got into controversy over Internet freedom in China, such as Some question her use of social media sites that are banned in China He painted it as incapable of understanding the plight of the millions of Chinese living under censorship.
The question for week two of the Olympics is whether Joe can continue to win, keeping her popularity and marketing opportunities the same while avoiding geopolitics and questions about her nationality.
Slopestyle is an event that suits Gu, who showed technical prowess on the rails at a young age, working with the US national team (moved to China in 2019). It’s a daring leap, as her great aerial victory showed.
In a few international competitions over the past year, Gu won or placed second in every ramp event.
Gu’s popularity has already skyrocketed, and it’s hard to imagine her size if she could leave Beijing – on her way home to San Francisco – with multiple gold medals.
“Infuriatingly humble internet trailblazer. Twitter buff. Beer nerd. Bacon scholar. Coffee practitioner.”