Eileen Gu’s path to the top of the podium on Thursday was a wild one, as the 18-year-old was only able to arrive in Calgary on Wednesday evening after losing her passport earlier in the week.
Showing up to the halfpipe at Calgary’s Canada Olympic Park for the first time on the day of competition, Gu spent a mere 45 minutes getting acquainted with the venue in training before dropping in on qualifications and locking down the highest score with relative ease.
Moving on to finals, Eileen Gu upped the ante in the icy Calgary halfpipe, putting down what was one of her most impressive runs to date.
Leading off with her signature right 540 Seatbelt, Eileen Gu then stomped a left 540 double Japan, into a right 720 tail, then a switch left 360 Japan, before finishing things off with a new combo that promises to help earn her a whole lot more wins in the future - left alley-oop flat 540 mute into a right alley-oop flat 540 safety to finish things off and take her second win in two attempts at Calgary.
“Yesterday I was in a different country with a lost passport and I had no idea how I was even going to get here,” Eileen Gu smiled from the finish area, “But I figured it out at the very last moment, got to my flight, was the last person on my flight, forgot my phone charger, no mom, no coach…everything was just kind of chaotic.
“But I’ve been talking to my mom and my coach on the chairlift and getting amazing support from my friends here, so it’s been good. We made it work. I wanted to come out here and have fun because this is fun for me. That was the goal and I had a great time tonight.”
The win gave Eileen Gu two halfpipe World Cup victories this season, to go along with her Dew Tour halfpipe win and her win earlier in December at the Steamboat big air World Cup. With three wins in three competitions, Gu now has a commanding early-season lead atop both the halfpipe and the FIS Freeski overall leaderboards.
Second place on Thursday went to the USA’s Hanna Faulhaber for her first career World Cup podium, as the highest-boosting woman in Freeski halfpipe continues to add more tricks and greater consistency to her already impressive amplitude.
Hanna Faulhaber scored 92.80 for a first run that included a massive tail grab off the top, left and right side flair safety grabs, and an incredibly clean cork 720 safety, giving her her second straight big-competition top-3 after she finished third at the Dew Tour two weeks ago.
“It’s a crazy one for sure,” said Hanna Faulhaber on her first World Cup podium, “It’s great to be able to put down consistently and I’m just happy to keep it going. I don’t know really what to say, I’m just excited for how it’s going and it’s unbelievable – I never thought that I would be here.”
Third place went to Canada’s Rachael Karker for the first of three podiums on the day for the host nation. Sitting in fourth before her final run, Karker was able to step things up when it mattered most, corking things out on all of her first four hits with a left flair, right flair, cork left 900 Japan, and a right cork 900 to earn herself a score of 90.20 and to keep her World Cup podium streak alive with her seventh-straight top-3.