BEIJING (Reuters) – Eileen Gu, a U.S.-born Chinese athlete who won gold in freeski Big Air in Beijing on Tuesday, is ready to celebrate her Olympic victory with peppermint chocolates and by playing piano.
Gu pulled off an impressive 1620 trick she had never done in competition before, beating French skier Tess Ledeux to take the top spot.
“I brought a package of holiday-themed peppermint bark Ghirardelli chocolate, so I’m gonna open that today. I’ve been saving it for my first final. It’s kind of an exciting moment,” the 18-year-old told reporters.
Gu said she will also play some piano, write in her journal and get ready for practice as she is set to compete in the slopestyle event on Feb. 14 and halfpipe on Feb. 18.
Gu – who came to her first Olympics as a medal hopeful in the three freeski events – has said she would be happy if she won a medal in Big Air, which is not her strongest suit.
But after locking in a seat on the podium after the second run, Gu decided to go for the double cork 1620, a trick France’s Ledeux had landed in the first run.
“I wanted to do the left 16 because I felt as though even if I didn’t land it, it would have been an opportunity to represent myself and my spirit on the Olympic stage and to show that I’m always wanting to push myself to the absolute limit,” Gu said.
She is likely to carry the spirit when she competes in halfpipe. She has been unbeaten in the four World Cup halfpipe events she has competed in this season.
If she can secure a second gold, Gu will become the most successful Chinese Olympian at a single Winter Games.
“Right now I’m gonna say Big Air is my favourite because I just had the best happiest moment of my life here. But halfpipe also ranks pretty high,” Gu said.
(Reporting by Krystal Hu in Beijing; Editing by Himani Sarkar)