Olympics 2022 | Under Bach’s eyes: Gu, Peng and the perfect staging

China’s ski freestyle star Eileen Gu shows spectacular tricks at the big air event in Beijing. The last jump gives her gold. IOC President Thomas Bach and tennis pro Peng Shuai are witnesses.

Eileen Gu happily sank into the snow and showed her most beautiful smile. China’s poster girl of the Winter Olympics had just landed his crowning gold jump in the big air event when IOC President Thomas Bach was already standing behind the freestyle superstar in a way that was right for the camera and gave a lot of applause – the staging was perfect.

Like so many things in the bright sunshine of Shougang, the big Gu show on Tuesday morning seemed to be going according to the plan of the Olympic organizers. In fluent Mandarin, the native Californian talked about the “best moment of her life”.

One, which was sitting not far away, provided further suitable pictures. She had previously been seen in the stands at Bach’s side and probably should have been seen: Peng Shuai. The tennis player, whose case had been the subject of global debate ahead of the Winter Games, witnessed China’s acclaimed third Olympic victory.

Gu on Peng: “I’m glad she’s happy and healthy”

Gu, the face and figurehead of the Chinese Olympic team, failed to notice the special guest, dressed in a black jacket with the Chinese flag sewn on it and a hat with the Olympic rings on it.

Nevertheless, the 18-year-old reacted with joy to the news of Peng’s presence. “It’s nice to hear she was here,” Gu said. It’s an honor when athletes in major sports like tennis pay attention to smaller ones like freestyle skiing: “I’m happy that she’s happy and healthy and doing her thing again.”

What Peng’s thing has been like in the past few weeks can only be speculated about. Massive doubts arose about the safety of the 36-year-old after a post on the Weibo social network, which was deleted after 30 minutes.

Doubts about Peng’s statements remain

In an interview with the French sports newspaper L’Équipe on Monday, the former Wimbledon doubles champion reiterated that her allegations of abuse against a senior Chinese politician were “a big misunderstanding”. She was not able to dispel doubts about the freedom of her statements. Peng met Bach for dinner in Beijing. Now they saw each other again at Gu’s triumph.

She enjoyed her greatest career success to the fullest, but there shouldn’t be a big gold rush. She had brought a chocolate bar from home for the occasion, and she also wanted to “practice the piano and then write in my diary”. A contrasting program to the spectacular finale in the morning.

In the third and last jump she dug deep into her bag of tricks and was the first woman ever to land a “Left Double 1620” with a “Safetygrab”. The double world champion pushed past the French Tess Ledeux, much to the delight of Bach and Peng.

Peng will not experience any further successes from “Golden Gu” live, although she also has gold chances in slopestyle (from February 13) and in the halfpipe (from February 17). “Now she has to be in quarantine, she told me, because she is leaving the closed loop,” Bach was quoted as saying by the New York Times.


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