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Free Skier Xu Savors Olympic Glory After 21-Year Efforts

  • Xu Mengtao at the freestyle skiing women's aerials final, Zhangjiakou, China, Feb. 14, 2022.

    Xu Mengtao at the freestyle skiing women's aerials final, Zhangjiakou, China, Feb. 14, 2022. | Photo: Xinhua

Published 14 February 2022
Opinion

At the age of 31 in her fourth Olympic outing on Monday night, Xu Mengtao realized her dream by winning the gold with 108.61 points for her world's top-notch trick of back-full-full-full.

Trained as a gymnast from the age of four and switched to aerials skiing in 2001, Xu Mengtao has been pursuing the Olympic top honor in the women's free ski aerials for 21 years, both for herself and for her motherland.

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At the age of 31 in her fourth Olympic outing on Monday night, Xu realized her dream by winning the gold with 108.61 points for her world's top-notch trick of back-full-full-full which boasts of the difficulty degree of 4.293 at the Genting Snow Park of Beijing 2022.

After Han Xiaopeng made the breakthrough in the men's aerials at Turin 2006, China, one of the powerhouses in the free ski aerials, has been waiting for 16 years to win its second Olympic gold from the discipline. Furthermore, it is also the fifth gold medal for China at Beijing 2022, which equalled the record number of golds taken by China in a single Winter Olympics at Vancouver 2010.

Xu Mengtao of China competes during the freestyle skiing women's aerials final of Beijing 2022 after tough training for five years, Xu made her international debut in the 2006 World Cup in Beida Lake with a seven-place finish.

Yet, a twist of fortune beckoned her when she suffered a rupture to the anterior cruciate ligament and medial collateral ligament in her right knee during the 2007 National Championships. She spent the rest of the season in rehabilitation, and didn't dare to reveal the injury to her parents until two more years later.

It was not until Vancouver 2010 that she reeled off her Olympic adventure by making it to the sixth at the age of 19. Four years later at Sochi 2014, she collected a silver and became the key member of the Chinese team. Hailed as one of the hots for PyeongChang 2018, she failed in her landing to rank in a disappointing ninth place.

During the past 21 years, Xu has attended six World Championships and harvested one gold (2013), two silver (2009, 2011) and three bronze (2015, 2017, 2019). Of her over 70 World Cups, she has made to the podium most of the time including 27 victories, with her most recent title won on January 5, 2022 in Le Relais.

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