Pies, parmesan and melons – a winter Olympic buffet

Olympic Games

The last of the Kiwi women retired early from the Winter Olympics, but gives hope for a bright future in snow sports. And there’s still time to add to the New Zealand medal count.

While Chinese freeskiing prodigy Eileen Gu was craving a kiwi meat pie – which she ate every day for two months in New Zealand – her Kiwi rival Anja Barugh was dreaming of Italian Parmesan four years from now.

Gu and Barugh found themselves on opposite ends of halfpipe qualifying at the Beijing Winter Olympics yesterday.

Gu, 18, born and raised in the United States but China’s leading figure at these Olympics, soared effortlessly to first place and the favorite to win a third medal (likely gold). But Barugh and fellow New Zealander Chloe McMillan missed the qualifying mark as they both struggled to fly. The two skiers from Waikato were the last female Kiwi athletes to compete in Beijing.

Gu already has freestyle skiing big air gold and slopestyle silver – and was the only competitor to score in the 90s, with a 93.75 and a 95.50.

Having spent the last Kiwi winters skiing in Cardrona, training with Kiwi trainer Brad Prosser, Gu has a distinct memory of his time in Aotearoa.

“Oh my God, meat pies!” she told Sky Sport when asked what she remembers most about New Zealand. “I had a meat pie every day for lunch for about two months.” It even inspired her to make her own at home.

Gu also paid tribute to Prosser for featuring her at the halfpipe event.

“We always say that Brad is probably responsible for making me the halfpipe skier I am today. In fact, I wasn’t a pipe skier until two seasons ago when I started working with Brad,” she said.

“It just clicked like that. We’re still on great terms, reaching out all the time, and I’ll text him after that.”

While Barugh, who was also making her Olympic debut, didn’t do as well in qualifying, she also had food on her brain.

“I’m severely lactose intolerant and the next Olympics are in Italy, so my goal is to do well enough to be able to eat a block of parmesan cheese at the end,” laughed the 22-year-old.

Barugh and McMillan are both from Waikato and had been in Beijing for less than a week before the competition, spending their build-up in Switzerland.

Barugh was the first to fall and lost momentum as her run progressed, unable to complete some of her tricks without looking like she was. Her first score, 38.50, put her 18th, and she suffered the same issues on her second run, collapsing on her last touchdown and finishing 19th.

Kiwi Anju Barugh takes to the skies in her Olympic debut – the freeski halfpipe in Beijing. Photo: Getty Images.

McMillan had a similar problem – as soon as one of the Kiwi athletes started spinning, they couldn’t clear the halfpipe deck and gain the height they needed. Aged just 21, McMillan scored 41.75, to be 17th, and improved slightly the second time around, but finished 19th – well outside the top 12 who qualified for the final.

“I kind of hesitated on my first run, which led to me improvising the rest of my run from there,” says McMillan.

“[It] It was a little nerve-wracking heading into the second moto, but I knew I had to clean it all up and do the best I could. I just wanted to show off the best skiing I could do.

Barugh is confident she’s on track to eat cheese at the 2026 Winter Games, but still remembers where she came from.

“When I jumped on skis at six years old because our friends at the surf club wanted us to do something with them in the winter, let’s just say I didn’t think I was going to be here,” he laughs. she. “I was more of a summer baby growing up on the beach, so now being here is pretty special.”

McMillan has a similar story, starting on plastic skis at age five and crediting her parents, Ross and Sally, with bringing her to Beijing.

“My parents, wow, they used to drive every weekend to Ruapehu from Hamilton to take us skiing and they really, really wanted us to like it,” she says, explaining that they didn’t. never forced to compete.

“I’ve never been more excited than Friday afternoon, packing my bags, going to the hill and then Sunday night, coming home and pretending to sleep so my parents can take me back to bed.”

Although they did not reach the final, the two Kiwis seemed optimistic, with Barugh encouraging the young Kiwi girls to pursue their dreams.

“To all the little girls who think they want to do something like this: you girls can do it, you know if you dream big you can do it.”

It was a mixed bag for the Kiwi men competing in the freeski halfpipe, with brothers Nico and Miguel Porteous advancing to tomorrow’s final second and ninth respectively, and Gustav Legnavsky and Ben Harrington missing out.

Harrington finished one spot outside the top-12 final, after crashing heavily on his second run.

Miguel Porteous described it as “one of the gnarliest crashes I’ve ever seen in the pipe.” The other Kiwi skiers ran onto the course alongside paramedics to check on him as he lay motionless in the snow, before Harrington managed to pull off the track. of course but looked shaken, after banging his head hard against the top of the pipe.

Pictures of the day

How the Kiwi women got away with it

The halfpipe freeskiers completed the New Zealand women’s program at these Olympics yesterday. And Zoi Sadowski-Synnott’s historic gold and silver medals – teaching us the beauty of a perfectly executed double cork 1080 frontside with a melon grab – overshadowed the rest of the team’s disappointment.

Alpine skier Alice Robinson came to Beijing as a real medal contender, especially in the giant slalom. But she struggled to pull off a race she would be proud of in the giant slalom, finishing 22n/a. In her typical aggressive style, she gave it her all in the Super G – “to be on the podium or in the fence” – but quickly lost control of her run and crashed down the incline.

Although a little battered and bruised, Robinson decided to try her hand at the downhill, an event she had very little experience in, and completed the course to finish 25and.

Robinson’s second Olympics weren’t what she hoped for, but she’s only 20 and the women who won her events were in their late 20s and early 30s. She has a long international career ahead of her and plenty of experience to learn ahead of Milan 2026.

An injury sustained in training has left Margaux Hackett on her back in Beijing. Unsure if she would compete in the big air freeski, she fell on her first two attempts but landed a decent third jump to finish 22n/a.

She moved closer to the top 12 in the freeski slopestyle finals, finishing 16and. In her Olympic debut, her goal was to make the final and show off her skiing more, but this early injury shook her.

An injury also ended Cool Wakashima’s first Olympics prematurely – the snowboarder injured her tailbone in a fall during her first run of slopestyle, and ruled her out of that and the big air.

Who still has to ski

Miguel and Nico Porteous will contest their halfpipe final on Saturday at 2:30 p.m., Nico looking to add to his bronze from 2018.

Peter Michael will be the latest New Zealand athlete to go for gold in Beijing when he takes to the ice for the mass start speed skating event on Saturday at 8pm. The top eight athletes from each race advance to the final at 9:30 p.m. that evening.

Comments are closed.