US-born Chinese skier Eileen Gu celebrated her second gold medal at this year’s Freestyle Ski and Snowboarding World Championships, which is hosted by the International Ski Federation (FIS), after securing an impressive score of 84.23.
Committed to representing the People’s Republic of China in the next year’s Winter Olympics, Gu’s name is now enshrined as champion of the women’s freeski slopestyle and ski halfpipe competitions. The 17-year-old athlete has already participated on China’s behalf at the 2020 Youth Olympics in Lausanne, Switzerland, where she won two gold medals for her performance in the big air and halfpipe competitions.
Eileen Gu was born in San Francisco, California to an American father and a Chinese mother. While competing for the United States in her earlier years, Gu announced her decision to ski for China in 2019 after her first World Cup win in Italy.
In an interview with NBC sports earlier in January, Gu said she is planning to participate in all three freeskiing events – halfpipe, slopestyle and big air – at the next Winter Olympics in Beijing. Although it is uncommon for an athlete to compete in all three events, Gu believes that her decision will prove fruitful. Speaking of the mutually reinforcing skills required for the events, Gu expressed that “they’re totally helping each other out. I think it’s really an advantage. And it’s fun for me. I think it takes the pressure off of each event.”
Eileen Gu was accepted to study at Stanford University after graduating from high school earlier in 2020. Gu revealed that she plans to start her college education in 2022 after the Olympics conclude. Competing for three Olympic medals in Beijing next year, Gu is aware of the pressure that she will face in the contest.
Gu also offered insight into her decision to ski for the Chinese team. The US-born athlete said that she discovered a ski community in Beijing as a child, during her annual trip to China. She also managed to find a small indoor ski resort to practice in. Gu officially announced her decision to change her national athletic affiliation in 2019. In a post published to her Instagram at the time, Gu said that she hopes to inspire millions of young people across the country where her mom was born during the 2022 Beijing Olympics. She wrote, “I am proud of my heritage, and equally proud of my American upbringings. The opportunity to help inspire millions of young people where my mom was born, during the 2022 Beijing Olympic Winter Games is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to help to promote the sport I love.”
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Chinese media also celebrated Gu’s success an the recent World Championships, with multiple reports highlighting her overcoming injuries in the run-up to the competition. The 17-year-old skier has started to receive more media attention since her decision to ski for China, and is on a path to becoming the next sports celebrity in China.
Sina Sports further discussed Eileen Gu’s enormous commercial potential following her success in skiing competitions. The report from the Chinese media outlet highlights Gu’s existing endorsements from notable sports brands such as Anta, Faction Skis, and RedBull. The analysis further points out the positive impacts that the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics can bring to the 17-year-old skier’s popularity, both in China and worldwide. If she succeeds in the Winter Olympics next year, the young skier stands to become a household name in China.
But for Eileen Gu, the priority remains focusing on the promotion of extreme sports in China, and helping others break boundaries: “there are almost none of those idols to look up to in skiing, and there are no female ones.” She hopes that her actions can inspire or possibly change one young girl’s life, saying “I wanted to introduce snow sports and free skiing in particular to Chinese people, and particularly to youth and girls… if I can just change one young girl’s life and show her one new passion or help break one boundary, then the decision was worth it.”