The penultimate freeski event of these games saw the women take to the stunt ditch. Since their arrival in Beijing, we've heard from both the women and men of the games that this was one of, if not the, best halfpipes they've ever skied. The innovative 'wind wall', aimed at protecting the pipe from the crosswinds that are more or less constant at the Genting venue, was certainly put to the test today because the winds were howling. It seemed to work (more or less) but with that level of wind, and some gusts blowing up the pipe as well as across, there were definitely still times it looked pretty sketchy. Regardless, it was the Olympic finals and the women sent it for the medals, with some of the most progressive halfpipe skiing we've seen in some time.


Run 1:

Amy Fraser, one of NS' ski testers at our Sunshine test last season, was the first to put down a full run, opening with some dope switch hits. Conditions were clearly not perfect and they were worse by the time Hanna Faulhaber dropped two runs later. She went to the moon on her opening straight air as per normal, and ended things with a smooth nine, scoring 85.25. Li Fanghui kicked off her run with a dope mute air to fakie and put down a solid array of technical tricks in all directions, just missing a couple of grabs. Cassie Sharpe raised the bar significantly with back-to-back nines up top and a 1080 on the final hit, much like her gold medal run of 2018. Kexin Zhang boosted another 1080 on her first hit, but the rest of the run tailed off a little as she lost amplitude. Kelly Sildaru had the same amplitude tail-off but definitely had one of the more technical runs, spinning all ways. If she could clean it up, it was clearly a medal run. Rachel Karker BOOSTED a first hit 9, clipping the deck of the pipe on the way back in but keeping the rest of the run clean to slot in behind Cassie Sharpe, before Eileen Gu dropped her trademark run, opening with the 9 buick and checking off the tricks as she made her way down the pipe. The 93.25 looked like it was going to be tough to beat, and gave her 2 more runs to improve.


Run 2:

Amy Fraser had a dope opening hit with a switch left 7 to a switch right 5 to left 9, but just didn't quite get the sequence dialed enough to continue her run. Hanna Faulhaber looked to have cleaned things up a little, but actually scored half a point lower. Li Fanghui did manage to improve, tidying up her grabs and overtaking Hanna in fourth. Cassie Sharpe put down both 9s and both 10s but didn't quite manage to get the grabs as well as she might have liked, it was still a 90 and showed that the run was there to compete for gold. Kexin also went for both 10s but crashed on the second of the two. Kelly cleaned up her run but the amplitude in the second half just wasn't there. Good enough for provisional fourth but not to bump Rachel. Eileen Gu went even bigger and added a right alleyoop 5 to the bottom of her run, bumping her score to 95.25.


Run 3:

It was going to be a big ask for anyone to make much of a difference to the podium spots in run three but there was plenty of send on show, and plenty of heavy hits. Hanna Faulhaber went huge until taking a spill on her switch 7. The only skier who looked to have a realistic shot of challenging Eileen's imperious performance was Cassie Sharpe. She did land both 10s and did improve her grabs but a hand touch and a lack of amplitude kept her score to 90.75. That opened the door to silver just a smidge but nobody could take advantage. Zoe Atkin put down a run third try and her grabs were proper, but neither the amplitude nor the technicality was enough on the day. Kelly Sildaru marginally improved her run, with better amplitude on the switch hits but the grab on her second nine was suspect, leaving her fourth. Rachel Karker dropped in with a bronze and went for it, but couldn't improve and pulled out of her run early. That left Eileen Gu with a victory lap and meant she takes home two gold medals and a silver from these games. There are other issues at hand, but from an athletic perspective, from a comp skiing perspective, it has been an unbelievable performance with few, if any, parallels.



GOLD: Eileen Gu

SILVER: Cassie Sharpe

BRONZE: Rachel Karker