'Oh my god!' Relieved Eileen Gu makes Beijing final on Olympic debut
Californian-born Chinese freestyle skier Eileen Gu, one of the faces of the Beijing Winter Olympics, fluffed her second run but still qualified for the final of the Big Air competition on Monday.
The 18-year-old, who has captivated China since switching allegiance from the United States in 2019, became disorientated in the air in her second run and one of her skis fell off as she came down in a tangle.
She briefly put her hands on her head, then scowled good-naturedly when her low score of 24.50 came through, followed by a shrug and a smile.
But it did not matter in the end, with 89.00 in her first run and 72.25 in her third and final effort enough to get her into Tuesday's final in fifth place -- and a chance of Games gold on her Olympic debut.
"Oh my god!" exclaimed a relieved Gu, after holding her nerve to nail her third run at the Big Air Shougang, where enormous industrial cooling towers provide a stunning backdrop.
"See you in the finals."
Megan Oldham of Canada topped the qualifying rankings.
Gu, who has a Chinese mother and American father, has earned a huge following in China and expectations of the teenager are sky-high.
She could walk away with three Olympic medals.
As well as Big Air, she is competing in the freestyle halfpipe and slopestyle.