Live Olympics Updates: Canada and U.S. Trade Leads in Women’s Hockey - The New York Times

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Live Olympics Updates: Canada and U.S. Trade Leads in Women’s Hockey – The New York Times

BEIJING — Eileen Gu, the 18-year-old from California, won the gold in the big air freestyle event Tuesday while competing for China in the Winter Olympics, a hard fought and close competition that left her biggest competitor, Tess Ledeux of France, in tears over taking home the silver.

Gu’s odyssey began on a blue-sky Tuesday morning at Shougang Park, on a massive modern jump set in an industrial park. Under the glare of a bright sun and the eyes of international media, she opened her performance with a “right double 1440 safety,” scoring 93.75 and vaulting her into first place. Her lead didn’t last long.

Three skiers later, Ledeux landed a 1620 — an extra half rotation from what Gu performed — to earn a score of 94.5. Gu and Ledeux traded big tricks in the second round. Gu headed to her last jump needing at least 93 points to leap from third to first.

Her final trick, called a left double 1620 with a safety grab, scored 94.5 points and landed Gu a gold medal. Among those who cheered the result was Gu’s mother, Yan Gu, on a balcony with friends near the landing area.

When Ledeux, disappointed with her second-place finish, fell to the ground, Gu tried to comfort her. In the big air final, athletes get three jumps, each judged on a 100-point scale. The best two scores are added together to determine an athlete’s final score.

Gu has two more freestyle skiing events, slopestyle and halfpipe, and will be a favorite to win both. As with big air, she had not finished lower than second place in any of those events at major competitions over the past year.

Born and raised in California but competing for China, Gu has attracted international attention — and some debate — for her decision in 2019 to represent her mother’s homeland.

Yan Gu, Eileen’s mother, was born in Shanghai and raised in Beijing. She emigrated to the United States about 30 years ago for postgraduate studies and settled in San Francisco.

Eileen Gu, a rising teenage star for the United States, has become a dominant freestyle skier and a budding supermodel. Her face is ubiquitous in China, in the advertisements for the many companies she represents and in the glowing news coverage she receives from state media.


Gu has said that she wants to be a bridge between the United States and China while inspiring young women and helping China’s nascent winter-sports industry to grow. She and her mother have declined to discuss any of the thorny geopolitical issues that involve the rival countries.

The setting for big air is garnering its share of attention, too. While all other freestyle skiing and snowboarding events are being held near mountainous Zhangjiakou, about 120 miles northwest of Beijing, Olympic organizers opted to turn the big air competition into a city affair.

Shougang Park is a converted steelworks on the western edge of Beijing. It features a swooshing ski jump — like a “J” leaning back — set near concrete cooling towers that some have suggested resemble the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant from “The Simpsons.”

The urban location brought more than a few fans during an Olympics held mostly before empty seats. Most of them, like the lenses of television cameras and dozens of photographers, were aimed at Gu.

China sees Gu as a way to build its winter-sports industry. The country is hardly a Winter Olympics powerhouse; at the 2018 Pyeongchang Games, it won one gold medal.

The hope was that Gu might triple that total all by herself.

One day after Leslie Jones suggested that NBC was pressuring her to give up her colorful Olympics commentary, the network said the situation “has been resolved.”

NBC, which said it did not take down her video, welcomed her back.

“She’s free to do her social media posts as she has done in the past,” a spokesman for NBC Sports said on Monday night. “She’s a super fan of the Olympics and we’re super fans of hers.”

Ms. Jones, who never minces words when it comes to her Olympics commentary, caught NBC’s eye ahead of the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016. She contributed to NBC’s coverage both in Rio and during the 2018 Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

In the process, Ms. Jones has injected a level of fun and humor not seen in traditional coverage.

Valieva completed the first two quadruple jumps landed by a woman at an Olympics, but fell on her third attempt. “Don’t be upset, baby, don’t be upset,” Ms. Jones said. “I like her head bun, too. Don’t be upset, baby, because you did your thing, you trust and believe. All them skaters wish they could do that shit. Good job, baby, good job. That was serious skating right there.”

“I’m tired of fighting the folks who don’t want me to do it,” she wrote in a card that was posted on Instagram, Twitter and TikTok. “They block my videos and they get folks who think they can do it like me. And I’m tired of fighting them. I love the athletes and they love me doing it. And I know y’all love it. But now it’s just gotten too hard.”

Representatives for Ms. Jones did not respond immediately to requests for comment on Monday night.

“I do this because I really enjoy watching the Olympics, I really love you guys’ reaction, I love that you guys enjoy,” she said in the video she shared early Monday. “This is, like, everyone coming together, no matter what’s going on, and competing in the Games.”

During the Tokyo Games last summer, NBC dipped its toes into nontraditional Olympic programming with a half-hour highlight show on Peacock that was hosted by Snoop Dogg and Kevin Hart.

The Korean Sport and Olympic Committee will lodge an appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport over the disqualification of two South Korean athletes from the men’s short-track speedskating event on Monday night.

The committee said in a statement on Tuesday that after the two skaters were disqualified, the South Korean team filed a letter of appeal to both the International Skating Union and the International Olympic Committee. The K.S.O.C. said in the statement that the relationship between the international sports community and the referees “was biased and not transparent,” and also cited the emotional distress of the athletes who had “shed blood, sweat and tears” in preparation for the Games.

The skaters, Hwang Dae-heon and Lee June-seo, were disqualified in the 1,000-meter semifinals on Monday evening. Hwang, who had been a strong medal contender, is the second-ranked 1,000-meter skater in world this season.

Hwang won his semifinal with an audacious pass of two Chinese skaters but was disqualified when referees determined that his pass was late and caused contact. In the other semifinal, Lee was penalized for a lane change that caused contact. Both Hwang and Lee were seemingly distraught by the decisions, blowing through the media zone after their races without stopping to speak with the South Korean journalists who were chasing after them.

The Hungarian team also lodged a protest after one of its skaters, Shaolin Sandor Liu, was disqualified and given a yellow card minutes after finishing first in the men’s 1,000-meter final, both for causing contact and for blocking another skater with his arm. That protest was similarly rejected.

Important referee rulings and controversial disqualifications are the norm in short-track speedskating, where some contact is allowed and falls happen regularly. But the calls at these Olympics have received particular scrutiny because a number of them have seemingly benefited the home nation, allowing it to win three medals, two of them gold, so far.

In the men’s 1,000-meter finals, the Chinese skater Ren Ziwei won gold and his countryman Li Wenlong won silver, each moving up a place after Liu’s disqualification. The Chinese mixed-gender relay team also won a gold medal, even after it finished last in its semifinal. But it was able to advance to the finals after both the United States and Russia were disqualified, with the Americans in particular baffled by the blocking penalty called on them.

After the event, the backlash in the South Korean news media was strong. The major broadcaster SBS aired a video package titled “Top 10 worst moments of cheating by China” in which clips showed Chinese speedskaters interfering with other athletes. A Seoul newspaper published an article with the headline, “Just let China take all the medals, just let China take all the medals.”

Searches for Zhu’s name remained visible. Furor erupted again on Monday, after she stumbled twice during her free skate event. Zhu, who broke out in tears during the program, finished last.

“Don’t cry, I’m the one who wants to cry,” one commenter wrote online.

Some social media users suggested, without evidence, that Zhu had gained a spot on the Chinese Olympics team because of the prominence of her father, Song-Chun Zhu, a computer scientist who relocated to Peking University from the United States.

Chen Lu, a Chinese former figure skater who won bronze medals at two Olympics in the 1990s, said Zhu’s mistakes reflected the pressures of performing at a global event before a Chinese audience.

This content was originally published here.