Californian-born Chinese superstar Eileen Gu capped her hugely successful Beijing Olympics by winning freeski halfpipe gold on Friday for her third medal of the Games.
The 18-year-old has been one of the stars of the Olympics and she added the halfpipe title to a previous gold and silver medal in Beijing after another commanding performance.
Gu went top with a first-run score of 93.25 before extending her lead with 95.25 on her second attempt.
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She had the title wrapped up before she even started her third and final run, and she celebrated with her coaches at the top of the halfpipe before making her way down with a relaxed and joyous victory lap.
Canada’s Cassie Sharpe took silver on 90.75 points, while another Canadian Rachael Karker claimed bronze on 87.75.
China’s Zhang Kexin required medical attention after a crash on her third run but she was able to get up and ski unaided to the finish area.
Gu becomes the first person to win three medals in three different freestyle skiing disciplines at the Winter Olympics.
She said after qualifying on Thursday that her grandmother would be in attendance for the final to watch her ski for the first time.
She posted pictures of the pair wearing sunglasses and posing with Gu’s Olympic medals on Instagram on Thursday evening.
Gu said after qualifying for the final that her grandmother was likely to be “unfazed and unimpressed” by the massive attention surrounding her famous granddaughter.
JUDGE COPS F-BOMB IN MEDAL DRAMA
Switzerland’s ski cross head coach criticised Beijing Olympics judges after athlete Fanny Smith lost out on a bronze medal when she was penalised for kicking a rival in Thursday’s women’s final.
Smith was yellow carded in the gold-medal race for making what judges deemed to be intentional contact with Germany’s Daniela Maier as they raced towards the finish.
The pair collided and Smith crossed the line in third ahead of Maier, but after a lengthy wait the Swiss was eventually classified as “ranked as last in their heat” — the equivalent of disqualification.
When it was announced that she had been penalised and moved into fourth, Smith could be heard shouting: “Who’s the f***ing judge?”
Swiss head coach Ralph Pfaeffli said the 29-year-old Smith was too distraught to speak to reporters after the race, but he said he believed the contact was “clearly incidental and not intentional”.
“They say she kicks sideways to slow down Daniela Maier but no ski cross competitors would ever try to side-kick while riding on rollers or over jumps into another person,” said Pfaeffli.
“That’s a complete misunderstanding.”
The race was won by Sweden’s Sandra Naeslund with Canada’s Marielle Thompson taking the silver and Maier bronze.
Pfaeffli said the Swiss team were considering appealing but believed “the result will never change”.
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Maier said she would need to watch a replay before she could judge whether it was a fair result, but she had nothing but sympathy for Smith.
“I’m really sorry for Fanny because it’s always a weird feeling,” she said.
“What really happened, I don’t know. I just saw that Fanny had more speed than Marielle and she had to decide where to go — then I am losing my balance.” The athletes were made to wait over five minutes after the race before the result was made official.
Naeslund said she “didn’t really understand” what the judges were looking at. “Sometimes it takes time but not this long, I guess, but it’s also an Olympic final so for sure they want to do it right,” she said.
“Sometimes there is those accidents where you can’t really do much. “It’s close skiing and it’s kind of hard to tell and hard to say who did right and wrong.”
OLYMPIC BOBSLEIGHER TESTS POSITIVE FOR STEROIDS
Ukrainian bobsleigher Lidiia Hunko has tested positive for an anabolic steroid at the Beijing Olympic Games, the International Testing Agency (ITA) said.
The ITA said in a statement that a sample taken on February 14 in Yanqing, site of the bobsleigh track, had contained dehydrochloromethyl-testosterone.
Hunko, 28, has been provisionally suspended.
She had finished 20th in monobob, a new event in the Olympic programme. It was the third positive test at the Games and the second by a Ukrainian. On Wednesday, the ITA announced that the Ukrainian cross-country skier Valentyna Kaminska had tested positive to several prohibited substances, including mesterol, another anabolic steroid.
Iranian skier Hossein Saveh Shemshaki was suspended on February 9 for the duration of the Games because an anabolic steroid appeared in an out-of-competition test taken on February 7 in Beijing.
The second week of the Games has been dominated by the doping case of star figure skater Kamila Valieva, but her positive test was on a sample taken at the Russian Championships in December The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruled that she could continue to skate in the Olympics.
On Friday the 15-year-old Russian fell several times in her free skate to drop to fourth in the final results.
OLYMPIC SILVER MEDALIST FUMES IN STUNNING RANT
Outraged silver medalist Alexandra Trusova felt robbed of the gold in women’s figure skating after her Russian teammate Kamila Valieva’s disastrous performance opened the door for a surprise winner.
As NBC’s cameras followed the distraught Valieva behind a curtain, Trusova could be seen wiping tears and reportedly heard in her native Russian language threatening not to go to the podium. It turns out that emotional outburst had less to do with the cruel fate suffered by Valieva – who slipped from first to fourth place after competing under the weight of a doping scandal – and more to do with Trusova finishing second.
“Everyone has a gold medal, everyone, but not me,” Trusova said, according to Reuters. “I hate skating. I hate it. I hate this sport. I will never skate again. Never. It’s impossible. That’s not how it should be.”
Trusova started Thursday in fourth place after her uneven short program. But she loaded up her dazzling four-minute program with five quadruple jumps – there wasn’t a single quadruple attempted in the 2018 Winter Olympics by any female skater – to make a run at the podium.
The 17-year-old Trusova set a record for technical score by breaking 100 points, but NBC analysts Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski knocked her lack of artistry – the other key component in scoring. The high-flying routine was not enough to pass another Russian teammate, Anna Shcherbakova, who moved up from second to win the gold medal despite including only two quads in her program.
Scherbakova won gold at the 2021 World Championships and Valieva won gold at the 2022 European Championships. Trusova took bronze in both those competitions.
“Over the past three years, I did not win anything,” Trusova told reporters in Beijing. “I did not win a single important competition and I was trying to explain this by the fact that I was trying to achieve some lofty goals and I have added quadruple jumps. And when I would do this, I would win, I thought. But this didn’t happen. That’s how it is.”
Trusova ultimately relented and took her place on the podium. She declined to answer questions about Valieva – who left the arena without speaking to reporters – and explained her backstage tears as “just because.”
“I wanted to cry, so I cried,” Trusova said. “I’ve been here for three weeks, alone without my mom, without the dogs, so I am crying.”
All three Russians share the same coach. Shcherbakova (255.95) beat Trusova (251.73) by a healthy margin of four points when the short and long program scores were combined, while bronze medalist Kaori Sakamoto of Japan (233.13) was further back.
“In the short and in the free [programs] I did everything I could,” Trusova said. “I am content with my programs, I am happy with my performances.”
— New York Post
AUSSIES IN ACTION (ALL TIMES AEDT)
11pm – Bree Walker and Kiara Reddingius (Bobsleigh, two-woman heats 1 and 2)
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