Gu came into Sunday’s action as the top qualifier and favourite despite it being only the third World Cup competition of her career. However, through the first two runs of the three run final she couldn’t quite put it all together, and was sitting in fourth before dropping in for her final run of day and the final run of the ladies’ competition.
Showing no signs of feeling the pressure, the 15-year-old proceeded to step it up big time. Starting her rail section with a switch right-side slide 270 off, she then put down a switch 180 on to the butter box to right-side 270 on 270 off on the down rail, into a switch left-side 270 on 270 off on the flat bar to finish off the rail run.
Through the jumps she the went left rodeo 540 safety, switch left 900 tail, to right 900 opposite tail to finish things off. Despite back-seating a little bit on her second air that run would be enough to please the judges, who awarded Gu a score of 84.40 for the first World Cup victory of her very young career and the lead in the World Cup slopestyle standings.
“This is insane,” a clearly thrilled Gu said from the finish area, “This is my first year on the World Cup and my third World Cup, and I didn’t expect this at all just coming into it. I’ve been trying to just focus on skiing my best and doing my runs so I was just happy to land my run. But to find out I won and I’ve taken the lead in the World Cup standings is just icing on the cake.
“I didn’t do my first two runs like I wanted to, but I was actually feeling less nervous than I thought I would be before my third run. I had landed it four or five times in practice, so I knew I could do it and I was feeling pretty calm.”
Gu’s final run bumped Canada’s Megan Oldham down into second place, giving the 17-year-old the first podium of her career in what was also just her third World Cup event, as she finished just back of Gu with a score of 83.00.
Third place on the day with a score of 77.30 went to Julia Krass (USA), making it three-for-three in the first-time podium department