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Olympic freeskiing veterans overshadowed at China's National Winter Games

Pub Date:2024-02-22 09:17 Source:Xinhua

HOHHOT, Feb. 21 (Xinhua) -- It was not a good day for veterans at China's National Winter Games on Wednesday, as four-time Olympians Jia Zongyang and Xu Mengtao both missed out on podium places in freeskiing aerials.

Jia, 32, who took silver at the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics and bronze at Sochi in 2014, finished only fifth due to a flawed landing on his decisive run.

Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics gold medal winner Xu, 33, also failed to crack the top three in the women's event.

After Beijing 2022, many senior Chinese skiers preferred to take a year-long break and returned to action ahead of this snow season.

"I returned to training last April, so I'm not in top form, for sure. I think I'm only at 50 percent of my best level," said Jia, who was second after his first two runs with 120.80 points.

"For athletes over 30 like me, it's a long run to get fully recovered and it's also a challenging job to recover to the best state. I can feel the challenges from those in their 20s. They grow fast," said Jia, adding that he was unsure if he would continue training after the National Games.

Fellow Olympic gold medalist Qi Guangpu, 33, pulled out of the Games with injury just hours before the competition kicked off.

19-year-old Chen Shuo from Henan Province was the only skier completing the final run without a landing mistake, claiming the gold with run-away 125.97 points.

"I was relaxed mentally in my decisive run because I had got what I wanted already through the first two runs, reaching the final, so I was not bothered by any worries," said Chen, who had no major individual title ahead of the Games.

"To me, the gold medal is a surprise. I would like to take the victory as good luck. I would not regard myself as a front-runner at all, a single triumph can't prove much," he added.

99.96 points was enough to secure the silver for Li Tianma of Jilin Province, followed by Fang Kun's 95.47 from Heilongjiang Province.

"As rookies, we have avoided a lot of detours thanks to the experience learned from senior skiers like Qi Guangpu and Jia Zhongyang," said 22-year-old Li. "Our road is straight, not crooked, so we can progress at a quicker speed."

"I think the difference between Chinese skiers and those from other countries on aerials is the experience derived from competitions, there's not much distinction on the difficulties of skills," added Li.

Editor:Zheng Chen

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