Four years after her teammate Sarah Hoefflin brought home gold for Switzerland, Mathilde Gremaud secured a repeat victory for the Helvetic Confederation in women’s ski slopestyle at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.
On a sunny but bitterly cold Tuesday morning in February, the women’s slopestyle finals got off to a rocky start, with half of the field unable to put down a clean first run. French favorite Tess Ledeux was the first to log a clean showing top to bottom, spinning switch right and left 270s on in the rails and a switch left 1080, switch right 900 and left double 12 mute in the jumps. But she bobbled the landing on a front 630 out in the rails and missed the grab on her switch 10, landing in the mid-70s as a result.
Eileen Gu also delivered a mostly clean first run featuring a right 450 on in the rails, two 900s and a right double 1080 safety to japan in the jumps. However, she jumped almost completely over the second rail feature, and failed to break into the 70s.
Estonian frontrunner Kelly Sildaru also put down a clean safety run on her first attempt. Her run also featured back to back switch 270s to the right and the left, and polished 900s and a 720 in the jumps—grabs immaculate as always—to post the first score in the 80s. After the first run Sildaru led the pack, followed by Tess Ledeux and Eileen Gu.
After crashing on the first rail in her first run, Mathilde Gremaud burst onto the slope course with a vengeance in her second. Skiing like a woman possessed, she laced a switch right 270 on, back 270 out, left 270 on, continuing 270 out; switch on, front 450 out; left double 1080 safety; right 900 tail; and a switch left 720 mute. A big run under pressure, Gremaud was rewarded with a score of 86.56.
Other big performers on Run 2 included rookie Kirsty Muir and veteran Maggie Voisin. Muir logged a solid run including her photogenic switch misty 900 tail and a left double 12 safety, while Voisin went deep on her own double 1260 and stomped it clean.
Kelly Sildaru delivered what might well have been a gold medal run, sending back to back switch 1080s in the jumps but inexplicably losing a ski on the landing of the last jump. She wasn’t the only favorite to struggle—Tess Ledeux took a hard crash, apparently injuring her hand, and Eileen Gu caught an edge on the landing of her front 630 out of the last rail.
On the third and final run, Gremaud boldly attempted to improve her run with a second double cork on the final jump, but lost control and took a big crash instead. However, as it turned out, she didn’t even need to try. Skiing with no poles after injuring her hand, Tess Ledeux went too big on a switch 1080 japan, a disappointing seventh place result for the ambitious young Frenchwoman.
Russia’s leading freestyler Anastasia Tatalina unpacked the day’s surprise trick, a double cork 1440 mute on the last jump. But with only a 540 on the previous jump, she only scored in the mid 70s. Eileen Gu also served up a big final run, stomping all her tricks clean: right 450 on; switch left lip 270 on to forward; front 630 out; switch left misty 900 tail; right double 10 safety to japan; right cork 900 buick. But the judges favored Gremaud’s run by just a hair, sliding Gu into second place with less than a point to spare. On the final run of the day, Sildaru put down her back to back 1080s in a solid bid for the gold, but her run was just a bit too “loose but lit” with multiple minor errors. She held onto the bronze medal on the merits of her first run.
Despite some sunshine, today was a battle against the elements, with temperatures at the slopestyle course checking in at a brisk -21 degrees Celsius. It’s hard to cap blunt when you can’t feel your fingers.
After crashing seconds into her first run, Mathilde Gremaud went ham on her second run with the performance of a lifetime. The only thing missing was a switch double on the final hit. However, ultimately she didn’t need it to win.
Canada’s Olivia Asselin took one run, then backed out of the finals. We’re hoping she’s okay, as well as American Marin Hamill, who injured herself in the qualifications and didn’t ski at all in the finals.
In her third Olympic slopestyle appearance, Katie Summerhayes showed she’s still able to throw down with best of them. After 7th-place finishes in 2014 and 2018, the British skier finished in 9th this time around.
Tess Ledeux was the day’s most disappointed competitor. A missed grab on her first run kept her out of podium contention, and a hard crash on her second run effectively ended her bid for a medal. But she’s still young, with plenty of Olympics to look forward to in the future.
The oldest skier in the field, Silvia Bertagna showed the power of perseverance, 8 years after her Olympic debut. The Italian took 10th place.
The UK’s Kirsty Muir continued to impress in her first Oympic appearance. However, she consistently went too big on the second jump, which kept her scores in check.
Anastasia Tatalina landed a respectable second run, but flailed a bit on her right 900. On her third jump she unpacked the day’s biggest trick, a double cork 14. But with a 540 on the second jump, she couldn’t break onto the podium.
American hopeful Maggie Voisin went massive on a double cork 12 for the day’s deepest stomp. She finished in fifth place, just behind Tatalina.
After errors in her first two runs, Eileen Gu delivered a clutch performance under pressure, just like she did in the Big Air finals last week. Gu’s third run earned her the silver medal.
Johanne Killi put down two solid runs, but missed grabs and less technical rails kept her out of podium contention.
Kelly Sildaru’s second run might well have won this contest if she hadn’t lost a ski on her final landing. Still, her performance was good enough for the bronze medal.