Gus Kenworthy brought down the curtain on a glittering Olympic career, while Musgrave takes 12th in weather-affected XC contest
Amid challenging weather conditions, Gus Kenworthy‘s glittering career drew to a close with a top-8 finish in the Men’s Freeski Halfpipe. After a scratch run on his first attempt and a huge smash on his second, there were questions over whether Kenworthy would be able to make it out for a third run. Ultimately he did, putting down a 71.25 to finish in eighth position, offering a reminder of his enduring class and impact in Freeski.
Having competed at the previous two Olympic Winter Games for the USA, Kenworthy switched representation to Team GB for his final Games appearance and helped ensure another Freestyle top-10 finish for British skiers at the Beijing Games, to go alongside those for Kirsty Muir (twice), Katie Summerhayes, Zoe Atkin, and Makayla Gerken Schofield.
Speaking after the Finals, Kenworthy said:
“Today was a pretty big struggle, we showed up and it was the windiest it has been since we’ve been here in Beijing, very, very cold.
“Just tough conditions to compete in. I think everybody had to end up modifying their run and adapting what they were doing and I did too.
“I still felt pretty good and felt that I could potentially do well and end up on the podium but I knew it was going to take a well executed run which is hard when it’s like this.
“Second run I had a pretty bad slam. I was feeling sore and knew that my third run was going to be my last contest run ever and that was my motivation.
“I dug deep and was able to put it down but it was pretty loose and windy, it wasn’t the run I wanted to do but I was grateful to make it down in one piece and end on my feet.
“I was still planning on doing a switch double on the second to last hit, I felt the wind as I was coming into it. That happened in my first run and I fell on that trick and I didn’t want to fall on the same trick on my last go.
“I felt the wind and did a switch 720, then had a bit of a weird landing at the bottom. It’s all good, it wasn’t quite what I hoped for but I’m still pretty proud of it.
“I’ve had a great time, I feel very lucky to be back here for a third Games and doing it for Team GB has been awesome. I just love all the people at the programme and the other athletes.
“The Olympics has changed my life, it has provided so much, all the opportunities I’ve had through skiing and my silver medal [for USA at Sochi 2014] is crazy to me and I feel very lucky.
“This last performance was for my mum and doing it for GB.
“I hope I made her proud, I’m sure I did. It wasn’t a medal or quite what I set out for but it all comes down to the day and it was a tough day today.”
Musgrave fights hard to secure top-15 spot
Poor weather conditions forced a last-minute shortening of the Men’s 50km Mass Start Free course to a 28.4km circuit, a decision which frustrated Andrew Musgrave, whose preparations had geared towards the longer distance. Despite the late change, Musgrave got off to a super start which saw him sitting in second at around the quarter race mark and held in the leading pack up until just after the halfway mark, but fell back in the final quarter of the race to finish a respectable 12th position.
Speaking afterwards, Musgrave reflected:
“It was a bit of a tough one. I was feeling a lot better today than in the two previous ones I’ve done.
“It was a little bit strange that the 50km suddenly got changed to a shorter race. But I couldn’t really do anything about that and just had to go out and make the best of it.
“I was feeling pretty good but on the second lap France’s Maurice Manificat increased the pace a wee bit and I felt it was just a little bit too fast.
“Out on the third lap, I was a little bit in the red and just couldn’t keep pace with the front guys. It was a fight to not lose too much time and keep my position.
“It ended up being a lot better day than the previous two races but it wasn’t quite what I dreamed of either.
“I was a little bit annoyed [at the change of distance]. 50km is meant to be the ultimate endurance race and I felt like it wasn’t quite the same.
“I like 30km as well, I know I’m strong on both of them. It’s a similar sort of race, preparation and warm-ups are all the same. I was annoyed but at the same time it didn’t affect my preparation.”
Header Image: Gus Kenworthy during Freeski Halfpipe Finals training at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games on the 19th February 2022 at Genting Snow Park in Zhangjakou, China. Photo by Sam Mellish / Team GB.