While the women’s qualification round went down without a hitch on Friday, with Li Fenghui (CHN) leading the top eight athletes into the finals, Mother Nature then forced the postponement of the men’s qualifiers when heavy fog and snow moved in.
Finals competition got underway at 11:00, and from the outset there was no taking it easy, despite the fact that Saturday’s competition was the first of the 2019/20 FIS Freeski halfpipe World Cup season.
“I’m just going to try and push it and push it and push it,” said Eileen Gu of China, putting down a score of 88.80 on run one to take an early lead. Unfortunately for Gu, her compatriot Zhang would up the ante considerably on run two, landing an incredible back-to-back switch 900s combination on her second run to take the lead with a score of 91.00.
While Gu upped her the score in her second run to an 89.00, it wouldn't be enough to catch Zhang, and the 17-year-old would lock down the third victory of her young World Cup career.
“Today I wanted to be true to myself and do the best of my ability,” Zhang said through the Chinese team’s translator, “I wanted to ski well and enjoy skiing. I’ve only done the back-to-back 900 combination one time before today, so I’m very excited and very happy with my skiing.”
Russia’s Valeriya Demidova was in strong form all day, landing three solid runs for a top score of 87.80 on run three, putting her in to third place overall.
- Kexin Zhang (CHN) – right 720 mute, switch left 900, switch right 900, switch left 360, right 540 mute
- Eileen Gu (CHN) – right 540 tail grab, left 540 japan, right 720 safety, switch left 7 japan, left alley-oop mute
- Valeriya Demidova (RUS) – right flair safety left flair safety right 720 safety, switch right alley oop 540, switch left alley oop 360 japan, left 720 mute grab