Twelve freeskiers compete for gold Tuesday in the women’s big air final at the 2022 Winter Olympics, and NBC and Peacock will be there to capture it all.
China’s Eileen Gu, a freeski triple-threat, gets her first chance at capturing Olympic gold. The 18-year-old is a near-lock in halfpipe; however, her odds to win the other two events aren’t as certain. She’ll battle reigning X Games champion Tess Ledeux of France and top qualifier Megan Oldham of Canada for the top spot.
Born and raised in San Francisco, Gu is fluent in Mandarin and grew up taking trips to the host country with her mother Yan, who was born there. She competed for the U.S. during the 2018-19 World Cup season before switching nationalities, citing an opportunity to help introduce her sport to young girls in the nation.
Gu won December’s Big Air Steamboat competition – her sole World Cup appearance in the event this season – by stomping a women’s competition-first double cork 1440, a trick she’s likely to unleash in Tuesday’s final. The 2020 Youth Olympic gold medalist took bronze at both the 2021 X Games and World Championships.
Ledeux, the 2019 world champion, won the other big air World Cup held this season in Chur, Switzerland. A native of the French Alps, she enters as the No. 2 qualifier having put down a double cork 1260 and switch 1080 in qualifying.
Oldham led Monday’s qualifying by landing a switch double cork 900 and double cork 1260 on her first two runs. The 20-year-old Ontarian won silver at last month’s X Games behind Ledeux, as well as bronze in slopestyle.
Estonian Kelly Sildaru didn’t advance past Monday’s qualifying with just one clean landing. After retrying a switch 1080 on her second run, she lost a ski on Run 3 and was docked points for the mishap despite a remarkable effort to keep from falling.
Montana native Darian Stevens, eighth in Monday’s qualifying, is the only American in the final. The 25-year-old has struggled with injuries in her career, tearing an ACL not long after her Olympic debut in PyeongChang. She finished 11th at December’s Big Air Steamboat.
Also competing: 2021 world champion Anastasia Tatalina of the ROC; 2018 Olympic slopestyle gold and silver medalists Sarah Hoefflin and Mathilde Gremaud of Switzerland; 17-year-old Olivia Asselin of Canada, bronze medalist at last month’s X Games; 17-year-old Scot Kirsty Muir of Great Britain, the 2020 Youth Olympic runner-up; two-time X Games Aspen big air silver medalist Johanne Killi of Norway; Killi’s teammate Sandra Eie; and Finn Anni Karava.
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