Gu Ailing wins halfpipe title at Dew Tour, ranks second in slopestyle

Gu Ailing of China won the halfpipe title and finished second in slopestyle at the Dew Tour in the US on Friday.

(L-R) Hanna Faulhaber, Gu Ailing, Kelly Sildaru pose for a picture during the halfpipe award ceremony at the Dew Tour in Copper Mountain, US, December 17, 2021. /CFP

Gu, 18, is considered a top contender in big air, slopestyle, and halfpipe events at the upcoming 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. She's already demonstrated strong and stable performance earlier this month, clinching titles in back-to-back World Cup big air and halfpipe events.

She clinched the halfpipe victory with much height and technically difficult spins in her first two runs, with either score sufficient to win her the match.

Estonia's Kelly Sildaru finished second, and Hanna Faulhaber from the US came in third place, increasing her odds to enter the US Olympic team.

"Today was all about having fun, pushing myself, pushing the sport," Gu said in an interview after her halfpipe win. "Being just the tiniest part of that is always my biggest goal."

Less than three hours later, Gu showed impressive performance again on the slopestyle course, and finished second, 2.50 points short of title winner Tess Ledeux of France. Norway's Johanne Killi came third. Sildaru withdrew due to hand injury.

"Honestly, I was really struggling in slope today. The speed was pretty tough," Gu said. "So I'm really happy that I was able to pull through and perform under pressure. ... It was still super fun."

(With input from AP)