Megan Oldham of Ontario, Canada, and France’s Tess Ledeux both exceeded 170 points in their combined-score totals to lead Monday’s qualifying in women’s freeski big air. Held at the distinct Big Air Shougang venue, it was the first-ever competition of the event in Games history.
Oldham, winner of two medals at last month’s X Games, unleashed a switch double cork 900 and double cork 1260 on her first two runs – the latter receiving the day’s top overall score of 91.25 – then crashed on her third to finish with a 171.25.
Ledeux was a quarter-point behind with 171.00, landing a double cork 1260 on her first jump and a switch 1080 on her second. A native of the French Alps, she’s the 2019 world champion and winner of the event’s most recent X Games gold in January.
U.S.-born 2020 Youth Olympic champion Eileen Gu of China qualified in fifth place with a score of 161.25. The 18-year-old won December’s Big Air Steamboat World Cup with a women’s competition-first double cork 1440.
“I’m happy to be able to perform under pressure and it speaks a lot to the amount of mental training I’ve been doing,” Gu said. “Tomorrow is the big show and hopefully I can put on a big show for everyone.”
Perhaps the biggest surprise was Estonian Kelly Sildaru failing to move on in 17th place. The 2019 world junior champion hit a solid switch rightside 1080 on Run 2, a trick she couldn’t quite stick the landing on in Run 1 when spinning the opposite direction, but lost a ski landing her third run and didn’t advance.
USA’s Darian Stevens qualifies for freeski big air final
Montana’s Darian Stevens was the only American to make the top 12 in eighth. Teammates Marin Hamill and Maggie Voisin just missed the cutoff in 14th and 15th, respectively, while Caroline Claire took 24th, opting not to start her third run after posting two low scores on her first two.
The women’s big air final takes place Tuesday morning, which is 9 p.m. Monday ET.