BEIJING, 17 February (BelTA - Xinhua). - China climbed up to the fourth place on the Olympic medal table after veteran freestyle skier Qi Guangpu gave the host nation its seventh gold medal at Beijing 2022 on Wednesday.
With four days to go before the Winter Games close, China now has seven gold, four silver and two bronze medals. Traditional powerhouse Norway leads the medal count with 13 golds, followed by Germany and the United States with 10 and eight golds respectively.
In a thrilling final duel, five of the six men's aerials finalists threw the trick with a difficulty degree of 5.000, but only Qi well executed to land him a 129.0 top score.
It's a third aerials medal for China, following the silver won in the mixed aerials competition, and gold in the women's event won by Xu Mengtao.
Qi's victory also marked the third Olympic gold for China in freeski aerials. After Han Xiaopeng was crowned in the men's aerials at Turin 2006, China waited for 16 years to see its second aerials gold taken by Xu on Monday night.
"This is my fourth Olympics. I have learned a lot. This is just the right time for me to win the gold medal in China, my home country. I am very happy my people are here with me. I can feel they are excited," said Qi after the final.
"Every trick in this competition is very important and very impressive. I did my best. During the competition, almost every competitor did their best, so every trick was wonderful," Qi added.
In other snow events, U.S. skiers Alexander Hall and Nicholas Goepper earned a one-two finish in the men's slopestyle final. Hall, 23, jumped to the top of the podium with a brilliant performance in his first run, pocketing the eventual winning score of 90.01 points.
"Honestly I was really, really surprised I landed the first run. I had done some parts of the run, but definitely not the whole thing altogether," said Hall after the final.
"It definitely was the best slopestyle run I've ever done, mainly because it embodied everything I love about skiing and how I approach skiing, and I didn't fade away from that to try and maybe get bigger scores or something," he added.
Despite posting a sixth-best 54.30 seconds in his first run, French Alpine skier Clement Noel regrouped in the second to claim the men's slalom gold medal while the Swedish team, including three biathletes from their 2018 squad, showed their strength to take the women's relay 4x6km gold.
Elsewhere, Germany and Norway claimed the women's and men's cross-country skiing team sprint classic golds respectively.
In the last matchday for short track speed skating, defending champion Choi Min-jeong of South Korea won the women's 1,500m while Canada bagged the men's 5,000m relay gold.
With the Games drawing to a close, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) praised the pandemic prevention and control at the Games, which has seen the number of new daily COVID-19 cases reported inside the closed loop decline to zero on Feb. 13.
"I think we sometimes forget we are actually in the middle of a global pandemic. And we are hosting probably one of the most complex international competitions or events in the world very successfully," said IOC spokesperson Mark Adams.