Wise looks at a triple peat, Gu looks at the history of freestyle skiing | national


David Wise plays with the money of the house. And he knows it.

So ask the only man to ever win Olympic halfpipe gold if he feels any pressure to bid for a triple tour in China and the free-spirited 31-year-old freestyle skier just laughs.

“I really, really feel like I’m going to be the hardest guy (to beat) because I have nothing to prove,” said Wise after finally securing a place with a second place finish in the Grand Prix. of the United States at Mammoth Mountain, Calif., Jan. 7. “I can just go over there and enjoy the ride. I will not be stressed.

The stress is lying on the floor with your shattered femur, like Wise did after an accident in 2019. The stress is heading towards the last pre-Olympic event, requiring a race on the podium to secure a spot. The stress isn’t standing atop the halfpipe on the sport’s biggest stage with a medal on the line. Damn, that’s Reno, Nevada’s idea to have a good time.

He believes he is in another battle with his American teammates Alex Ferreira – whom he narrowly won in Pyeongchang four years ago – and Aaron Blunck, among others. Wise, however, knows her legacy is firmly in place no matter how it turns out. This freedom makes him perhaps even more dangerous.

“I’m not going to say ‘I have to do this race for myself’,” he said. “I see it more as an opportunity. I have the opportunity to do what I have always loved to do in front of a huge crowd and to represent the United States once again. So it’s just an opportunity. It’s like, ‘Yeah, let’s do one more. I have one more chance. Let’s do this. ‘”

Eileen Gu is eyeing the story of a different kind. The 18-year-old Californian star – who is equally at home pose for Vogue as she is create a flexible relationship with the laws of gravity – will try to win a medal in the three disciplines: halfpipe, slopestyle and Big Air. And she will do it by competing for China, where her mother Yan emigrated in her twenties.

It’s a decision Gu made in part to help develop the sport in a country that isn’t exactly a superpower at the Winter Games.

“It’s great to be able to win a gold medal, there are very few things out there that would feel better,” Gu said. “But in the long run, that’s what you can do with the sport and what you can do with this platform.”

Do not mistake yourself. Gu wants to win. And if it can do so by playing a role in redefining what is possible for a country of 1.4 billion, so much the better.

“I (would) like to be able to have these medals and have the impression of having changed someone’s life or changed sport or introduced sport to a country where this was not the case before,” he said. she declared.

Gu is a big favorite to win gold in the halfpipe – where she is unbeaten this season – and is a threat in slopestyle and Big Air, who will make her Olympic freestyle debut after limiting herself to snowboarding in Korea.

Other things to look for during these busy three weeks at Genting Snow Park and Big Air Shougang.

Mixed team jumps will be one of seven new medal events added to the Olympic program in Beijing. In this competition, a national team made up of three skiers – with at least one man and one woman – will each attempt one lap of the jump. The three scores are combined for an overall total. The final is scheduled for February 10.

The Russian team, known as the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) for the Beijing Games, won the mixed team event at the 2021 World Ski Championships with Switzerland finishing second. The Americans won bronze behind a team made up of Ashley Caldwell, Eric Loughran and Christopher Lillis.

As a child, Canadian mogul star Mikael Kingsbury placed a picture of the Olympic rings on the ceiling of his bedroom and wrote, “I’m going to win. Four years ago in Korea, Kingsbury’s prophecy came true.

The 29-year-old has long been a force in the mogul scene, winning six World Championship titles and recording 70 World Cup victories. He regained shape after a training accident in December 2020 that resulted in the fracture of two vertebrae. One of the best contenders will be Ikuma Horishima from Japan.

Among women, the French Perrine Laffont is the reigning Olympic champion. She is currently third in the World Cup standings, behind leader Anri Kawamura of Japan and Jakara Anthony of Australia. The Americans have a deep mogul squad with Hannah Soar and Jaelin Kauf each meeting the nomination criteria.

Formerly an alpine ski racer, Sergey Ridzik of ROC switched to skicross and since then it has been a success at high speed. Ridzik, the 2018 Olympic bronze medalist, and Sweden’s Sandra Naeslund are clearly enjoying the Beijing course, as they both won a World Cup event at the venue in November.

Don’t count on defending Olympic champion Brady Leman of Canada. He finished second over Beijing. The same goes for Swiss runner Fanny Smith, who won Olympic bronze in ’18.

There will be a new Olympic Women’s Champion following the retirement of defending champion Kelsey Serwa of Canada. Her teammate, Brittany Phelan, remains a serious contender. She was a silver medalist in South Korea.

AP Sports Editors Pat Graham and Eddie Pells contributed to this report.

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