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ZHANGJIAKOU, China – It was ambitious to set out for three Olympic medals, a logistical challenge Eileen Gu has pursued with little rest over the past two weeks.

Lofty as it was, the goal was realistic for the 18-year-old who has been one of the most dominant athletes her sport has seen. That expectation became coronation on Friday as Gu, competing for her mother’s native China, won the third medal.

Gu took the lead after landing back-to-back corked 900s a first run that featured the biggest amplitude of the day, and then extended her lead on a similar second run, scoring 95.25. 

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Canadians Cassie Sharpe and Rachael Karker won silver and bronze, respectively. All three American women in the event – Hanna Faulhaber, Brita Sigourney and Carly Marguiles – finished off the podium.

Gu’s gold in halfpipe comes after winning silver in slopestyle and gold in big air.

“From the opening ceremony until tomorrow I have had no days off, I’m skiing every single day, I’m competing every single day of three events,” Gu said after qualifying first in halfpipe. “It’s definitely not easy, but I ran a half-marathon every week over the summer to prepare. I feel proud of the work I’ve done to build up my endurance base, so this is what I’ve been preparing for.”

To be sure, her success was somewhat expected.

At X Games and the world championship in 2021, she medaled in all three of the events, winning two. She did the same in the Youth Olympic Games the year before.

Still, it was not without challenge. Training days conflicted with competition, leaving Gu to quickly grab a snack after the slopestyle qualifying and final rounds then rush to the halfpipe.

Gu’s Olympic dominance has been closely followed, both here in China and in the United States, where she was born and raised. Straddling two cultures, Gu has brushed aside her role between two geopolitical foes.

Instead, she has focused on what she can do inspiring Chinese people – and young girls in particular – to get on snow. It’s the reason she chose in 2019 to compete for China, where her mother, Yan, is from.

OPINION: Eileen Gu’s life gets more complicated after winning gold at Olympics for China

“I hope it sends out a message and I hope that I’m able to use this platform to inspire more young girls to take part in freeskiing,” Gu said after winning big air last week. “That’s always been my biggest goal since day one. My message has been the same forever. It’s just a bigger platform and more voices hearing me.”

Now with three Olympic medals, the result of a lofty goal achieved, Gu will have a bigger platform. And if these past two weeks are any indication, many will be watching what she does with it.

MEDAL COUNT: Where Team USA ranks on the leaderboard

TV SCHEDULE: How and what to watch each day of the Beijing Olympics

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Chinese-American teen Eileen Gu wins freeski halfpipe gold, her third medal of the 2022 Winter Olympics

Source: MSN


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