Professional skier Ailing (Eileen) Gu has truly made a name for herself over the past year, and is the new face of professional skiing.
At only 18, she has won three Olympic medals, represented the United States and China and achieved feats which most people can only dream of.
THE ORIGINS OF A PRODIGY
Born in 2003 in San Francisco, Calif., U.S.A., Gu is no stranger to the exceptional. She was raised by her mother, a first-generation Chinese immigrant to the United States who instilled in her a strong work ethic and competitive ferocity.
Participating in skiing competitions at an early age, Gu quickly amassed a number of titles and medals while simultaneously honing her skills.
Before her debut at the Winter Olympic Games in 2022, Gu had already won two gold and one bronze medal at the X Games, two gold and one bronze medal in the FIS Freestyle World Ski Championships and 2 Crystal Globes in the FIS Freestyle World Cup.
THE OLYMPIC DEBUT
Gu recently made waves at the 2022 Beijing Olympic Winter Games, where she officially became the youngest gold medalist in Olympic freestyle skiing history; she also became the first skier to win three medals at the games.
An impressive trick known as the double cork 1620 landed Gu with the gold, giving her a whopping score of 188.25 over three runs.
Feats like these are no small thing, and Gu knows this. In considering her cultural influences and her ability to elevate noble causes, Gu decided to represent China in the Olympics and not her passport country of the United States.
The representation of China in Gu’s Olympic debut has caused mountains of controversy – and praise – in the United States and China alike.
Though Gu was born in the United States, she saw an opportunity to popularize snowsports in China, a country which has a relatively small presence in the snowsports world. In particular, Gu intends to speak to the youth of China.
“My biggest goal is for some girl to be sitting at home watching freeskiing for the first time and thinking, ‘Maybe that could be me some day,'” Gu said in an interview with the Associated Press. “Maybe she sees someone who looks like her doing it and thinks, ‘Hey, I can do that, too.'”
Gu has also faced backlash for her decision. Fox News commentator Will Cain, for example, notoriously stated that Gu’s decision to represent China was “shameful” and “ungrateful,” suggesting that she had come to her decision to make money from Chinese sponsorship deals.
In any case, Gu is a polarizing figure, yet one who is changing the face of professional skiing by the day.
Maybe she sees someone who looks like her doing it and thinks, ‘Hey, I can do that, too.’Eileen Gu
A NEW FACE AND A BRIGHT FUTURE
Aside from her renown in the world of snowsports as the new face of professional skiing, Gu is also incredibly talented in other fields.
Though she currently acts as an informal diplomat between the United States and China, Gu has already been given pre-acceptance to attend Stanford University, her mother’s alma mater.
Gu is also a nationally renowned model who works with various top-tier fashion organizations. Louis Vuitton, Tiffany & Co., Fendi and Gucci have all featured Gu. She can also be found on the covers of numerous magazines such as “Harper’s Bazaar,” “Elle” and “Vogue,” among others.
Gu seems to live with her feet in two different worlds. She plants one foot in Chinese snow, and the other on the slopes of the United States.
In an interview with “The New York Times,” Gu said, “When I’m in the U.S., I’m American, but when I’m in China, I’m Chinese.”
It seems that Gu still has a bright future ahead of her. If the 2022 Olympics and her way with diplomacy are any indication of Gu’s abilities, she will be impressing the world in new ways for years to come.