Gu creates history again, triumphs at Freeski World Championships

Society & Culture

Eileen Gu became the first freeskier to win two golds at the FIS Freeski World Championship over the weekend.

Eileen Gu (谷爱凌 Gǔ Àilíng) made history over the weekend in Aspen, Colorado by becoming the first freeskier to win two golds at the FIS Freeski World Championship.

The event was originally scheduled to happen at Zhangjiakou — which will host a lot of the events at Beijing 2022 — but was moved to Aspen due to China’s COVID travel restrictions.

Gu, who competes for Team China, started her competition on Friday with a win in her favored event, the halfpipe. Starting the run with two big-amplitude 900s, the 17-year-old laid down a technical run that was rounded off with a left 540 double Japan.

A score of 93.00 from the judges was enough to put Gu top of the standings, ahead of Canada’s Rachael Karker and Britain’s Zoe Atkin.

“It feel’s so so good (to win gold),” Gu told FIS. “I broke my hand a few weeks ago…and it’s my first time ever competing without poles. I wasn’t sure how comfortable I would be with that. I definitely was really struggling on qualifier day and during training and that shook up my confidence a little, but dropping in today I was really feeling it, and Aspen Snowmass is always so amazing.”

The next day, Gu’s first run in slopestyle was enough to secure her an unassailable lead.

A very clean top rail section, including a 270 on and off a flat bar, allowed Gu to carry speed and points through the course. A technical switch misty 900 off the first jump, followed by a left 720 and a right 900 tail grab, concluded the run emphatically.

The score of 84.23 was unmatched by any other athletes. Mathilde Gremaud trailed Gu by some distance in second with a score of 77.15. Canadian Megan Oldham scored 76.18 to finish third.

“It is absolutely blown right now,” Gu told FIS after the event about winning multiple golds. “It was super windy today. A lot of girls had to push through really tough conditions.”

The World Championship is Gu’s second major senior competition since winning two golds and a silver in the Winter Youth Olympics last year. Earlier this season, Gu won two X Games golds, also in halfpipe and slopestyle.

China’s winter sports hope Eileen Gu makes historic X Games debut

~

IOC to purchase Tokyo Olympic vaccines from China

The International Olympic Committee has welcomed China’s offer of COVID vaccines for competitive athletes, as China maneuvers for positive PR amid international calls to boycott Beijing 2022.

Thomas Bach announced China’s pledge at the IOC annual session last Thursday: “We are grateful for this offer which is in the true Olympic spirit of solidarity. In this spirit, the IOC will pay for these additional doses of vaccines not only for the Olympic but also for the Paralympic teams.”

However, the IOC was forced to clarify the next day that the vaccine offer was only available to the National Olympic Committees countries that have approved Chinese vaccines for use. That does not include Japan, the host nation of the upcoming Summer Games.

~

Chinese social media shows support for Japanese ping-pong star

Japanese ping-pong star Ai Fukuhara (福原爱 Fú Yuánài) trended on Chinese social media earlier this month.

Fukuhara, who is married to Taiwanese ping-pong player Jiāng Hóngjié 江宏杰, is vastly popular on the Chinese internet for her fluency in Mandarin — with a strong northeast accent, no less — her friendship with Chinese players, and perhaps the fact that she’s never posed a threat to China’s ping-pong players in competitions.

On March 3, a Japanese site reported that Fukuhara may have been having an affair. On Weibo shortly afterwards, she received near-unanimous support from Chinese internet users. People condemned the behavior of her husband and argued that her actions were a justified response against his marital abuses.

What’s On Weibo reports:

More support for Fukuhara was flooding in under a hashtag “How Could Anyone Make Ai Jiang Sad”(#怎么会有人舍得让爱酱难过#). Weibo users shared various videos of Ai Fukuhara, including documentary videos about her life-long table tennis career and her interviews on variety shows in China and Japan.

—Dennis E. Yi

~

Other stories:

Sport and exercise under spotlight at Two Sessions (China Daily)

Sports media group Titan Sports joins Esports (PanDaily)

Chinese sportswear giant Li Ning files for $250 million US IPO (Sport Business)

Yanqing Alpine skiing mountain to be fully finished and operating at Olympic capacity in November (China Daily)


The China Sports Column runs every week on SupChina.