After months of creating man-made snow and complaints about the lack of natural snowfall, the start of the freeskiing slopestyle events were, quite ironically, put on hold after a snowstorm blew through the Genting slopestyle course over the weekend. This brought heaps of (natural) snow and high winds, which made conditions too dangerous for competitors.
Following a rescheduling to this morning, the women’s slopestyle qualification round went ahead after the weather finally relented, with competitors battling it out in some tricky conditions with strong winds and ice-hard landings. One thing that’s been evident since the big air finals of last week is the level of progression in women’s freeskiing is increasing at an impressive rate – and this theme continued in the slopestyle qualis.
Kelly Sildaru came out in pole position with two solid runs that scored her 80.96 and 86.15. Her last run was slopestyle at its best with a clean upper rail section, followed by a technical jump section where she nailed a switch 900, switch 1080 blunt and another switch 1080 on the final booter.
Gu, who’s looking to pip Sildaru to become the first freeskier to win three medals at the same Olympics, put in a pretty muted performance during the big air qualification before stepping up to the mark in the finals. The Chinese superstar looked to be taking the same approach to the slopestyle, with her first run only placing her in 11th with a 57.28.
It was Gu’s second run that landed her in the top spots after a technical performance, top to bottom, landed her a score of 79.38. Gu looks to be able to step up to the pressure when it comes to the finals, so the fight between Gu and Sildaru is going to be one to watch.
The two British hopefuls – Kirsty Muir and Katy Summerhayes – both qualified in 6th and 10th, with 17-year-old Kirsty showing us how much potential she has with a super clean first run that featured a huge cork 900 on the bottom kicker. Reigning Olympic champion Sarah Hoefflin didn’t qualify after falling on the first rail of her last run.
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