From our special envoy to China,
From our special envoy to China,
This one, we didn't see coming.
Quietly installed in the stand reserved for the press, with a breathtaking view of both the "Big Air Shougang" and the kinds of nuclear silos stuck to the logo of the 2022 Olympic Games - hello winter sport atmosphere -, in the industrial zone of Beijing, we almost fell backwards when we saw the Chinese Eileen Gu attempt and succeed the famous 1620° during her third run, in the Big Air final, on Tuesday.
Because until now, this figure was in a way the private property of the freestyle skier Tess Ledeux, huge favorite for gold in Beijing and the only girl to have ever attempted it (and succeeded).
It was three weeks ago during the Winter X-Games in Aspen, USA.
It is also with this spectacular jump, usually more the prerogative of boys, that Tess Ledeux started her final, thinking that once she landed, no one could come and steal the Olympic title from her.
But that was without counting on the nerve and talent of her number 1 competitor, who wisely waited for the 3rd run to bluff the Chinese public – including us – who had come in large numbers for the occasion.
Because here, in freestyle skiing, it's all about the big bluff, taking it by surprise.
At the start of the week, the cousin of Kévin Rolland explained to our friends from the
that she had perfectly calculated the move: by showing the world this first 1620° in the history of women's freestyle skiing, just three weeks before the Olympics, she knew (or rather she thought) that she was going to put her opponents KO in the air, giving them no time to try it in training.
A figure never tested by the Chinese
The strategy was rather shrewd.
As proof, according to him, Eileen Gu had never realized it before this Tuesday.
Passed in the mixed zone just after Tess Ledeux, the Chinese (of American origin) says: “I had never tested it.
After my second run, I was very happy with myself but as I saw that I was third, I took the time to call my mother to ask her "Mom, what should I do ?"
She said to me: "Do the 1440 again, try to do it better and improve your score, take the silver medal and we will be proud of you."
Hyper at ease in the media exercise, which is borderline creepy given her young age, Eileen Gu has the science of story-telling.
She takes a breath, then continues her story.
“I was there: “Huuuuum no!”.
I said to myself, at worst, even if I miss it, I will have shown the world that I was not afraid to try.
And if it passes, the rest is history.
I called my mom and said, "I told you so!"
“Told you so”, in VO.
🥈 If disappointment prevailed after her last visit, Tess Ledeux can enjoy her silver medal.
The French signed a very good final!
▶️ Relive his three passages 👉 https://t.co/oY55TMWsIK pic.twitter.com/lzwqoMng1x
— francetvsport (@francetvsport) February 8, 2022
Like us, Tess Ledeux hadn't imagined that Gu would have the audacity to steal her signature jump, what's more during a third and last run of an Olympic final!
However, she assures him, this is not what prompted him to try in turn an unprecedented figure in his repertoire, "a switch 14" tested "for the very first time in [his] life at the training when arriving in Beijing”.
"I don't watch what other people are doing, I don't want to be destabilized if I see a super jump," she explains in the mixed zone after her passage on the podium.
In my head, I just wanted to improve my last jump, because I knew I could get the half point I was missing (for gold).
It would have been necessary to put the reception a little further away or to do another grab (grab your ski with your hand).
That's what I tried to do,
but I made a mistake.
I tried a gamble and I lost”.
A new poker move in slopestyle?
On TV, on social networks, many people have kept from this unfortunate final for the tricolor only his tears on the snow.
In truth, we also expected to pick up Ledeux with a teaspoon but, to our surprise, the kid (20 years old) was smiling.
Far from the Franco-French palaver around a possible fault in the judges' rating, the skier was sincerely happy to have crunched the money.
“My goal was to get a medal.
It's true that a gold one would have been crazy, but the main thing is a medal, she repeats.
Being an Olympic vice-champion, that will never be taken away from me.
Today I skied 100%, I gave my best, I couldn't have done better, that's why I have no regrets.
Stressed to the point of having “wanted to vomit” in recent days, the Savoyard indeed seemed to be freed from a weight.
And "reboosted" in anticipation of the slopestyle event which is scheduled for next Monday.
"It makes me want to push my limits even further," she confided before leaving the stage.
With probably a new figure behind the head.
Olympic Games 2022: A slew of French people in cross-country skiing and the individual biathlon... Follow the morning events
JO 2022: No miracle for Pinturault, the sad money of Ledeux … What you missed this night
Winter Olympics 2022
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A fault ?