A triple threat in halfpipe, slopestyle, and big air (she took medals in all three competitions at the Lausanne 2020 Youth Olympic Games), Eileen Gu is already in the conversation as perhaps the world’s best freeskier at just 16-year-old. On Friday night she strengthened her case for that claim with three top-notch runs, finishing things off with a victory lap that was anything but mellow.
Near perfect throughout her final run, Eileen Gu stomped a right cork 900 safety, left 540 double japan, right 720 safety, switch left 720 japan, and finally a left alley-oop flat five mute on her final hit to earn a score of 94.00 and the first halfpipe World Cup win of her career.
“I don’t think you can ever just expect to win a World Cup,” she said when asked if she saw Friday night’s win coming, “It’s all about going in and doing the best you can, and tonight I was able to perform and do something that I haven’t been able to do before. I just did the best that I could do and this is the best that I could have hoped for. Tonight was just incredible.”
Second-place on the night with a score of 89.20 went to Canada’s own Rachael Karker, who impressive with her typically lofty amplitude and diverse tricks, including a heavy left cork 900 safety to right cork 900 safety combo.
Meanwhile, Valeriya Demidova would finish the night in third place with a score of 87.20 for her typically technical, a rock-solid brand of pipe skiing.
The third-place podium for Demidova capped off an incredible 2019/20 for the 19-year-old, who took podiums in four of five competitions on the season - including a win at the future Beijing 2022 Olympic venue in Secret Garden - to earn the first-ever Freeski crystal globe for a Russian athlete. With 345 points, Demidova topped the final podium over second overall Rachael Karker and third overall finisher Zhang Kexin (CHN).
“I got third place tonight and I have the globe…I’m one of the happiest people ever right now,” Valeriya Demidova smiled with her trophy in hand, “Before me, we don’t really have podiums for Russian freeskiers, and now we’ve got a crystal globe. I’m super happy with how I’m skiing, but I still made some mistakes in my runs tonight. I’m going to put work in for next season and I think I’ll be even better. It will be so cool, I think.”