None, of course, were more solid than Eileen Gu on Friday, as the 18-year-old - who was fresh off a big air win at the Visa Big Air presented by Toyota at Steamboat Resort just six days ago - showed once again why she’s arguably the most exceptionally well-rounded freeskier in the world right now.
“Today the conditions were really tough,” she said, just before the awards ceremony, “It snowed overnight and it’s still snowing right now, so that affected me a lot and I had to make some last-minute changes to my run. I wasn’t able to do a lot of the tricks I’ve been working on early in the season. But the conditions were the same for everybody and I’m happy I was able to put the run that I did.”
Leading off her first run with a right side 900 with the Buick grab that only she is doing in the women’s field, Eileen Gu followed that up with a left 900 Japan, a right 720 opposite tail, a switch 360 Japan, a left alley-oop flat 540 mute and finally a left 540 double grab to earn a score of 90.50 that would hold up to all challengers and give her her second career halfpipe World Cup win.
“I love competing with all the girls,” Gu went on, “I feel like halfpipe skiing, and just women’s freeskiing, in general, is at a really progressive point right now and it’s super exciting to be a part of it and be at the forefront of it. Being able to have played any little part in that progression is a huge deal for me.”
In the second place, just half a point back of Gu, was Canada’s Rachael Karker, who boosted some of the most consistent amplitude of the day and was one of the few skiers in Friday’s snowy finals who laid down their best-scoring run in their third attempt.
Kicking things off with a giant left flare mute grab and immediately following that up with back-to-back 900s, Karker’s combination of variety and airtime earned the 24-year-old a score of 90.00 and her eighth career World Cup podium.
Third place on the day went to another Freeski triple threat in Kelly Sildaru of Estonia. Squeezing more hits into her run than any other skier dropping in on the Copper pipe, Sildaru included a right 900 mute to left 900 opposite tail to open her high-scoring second run in style. With a score of 88.75, she would make her first halfpipe World Cup start in almost three years a good one by earning her eighth career World Cup podium.