5 Things To Know About Chinese-American Skier Eileen Gu

By Generation T

Here is everything you need to know about Eileen Gu

Tatler Asia
Cover  Eileen Gu

Eileen Gu, also known by her Chinese name, Gu Ailing, is a Chinese-American freeski prodigy and Gen.T honouree. Born in the United States, Gu started skiing when she was three years old, going on to become junior group champion of the USA Snowboard and Freeski Association aged nine. In 2019, at the age of 15, she made her “biggest decision”, opting to compete for China at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games.

Here are five things you need to know about Gu.

1. She earned her first World Cup victory at fifteen years old

Gu won her first World Cup victory at the FIS Freeski World Cup Slopestyle in Seiser Alm, Italy in 2019. “I’m still buzzing from winning today,” Gu said to US Ski and Snowboard. “Coming into the final run of three after messing up my first two definitely wasn’t easy, especially after qualifying first into finals. I just tried to focus on the little things in my run and it looks like it paid off! When I received my score I was astounded and ecstatic to get my first World Cup win.”

2. She’s representing China at the 2022 Winter Olympics

“My goal is to win Olympic gold [at Beijing 2022],” Gu told Olympics.com. “That to me is just representative of excellence in sport; it's the top achievement undisputedly. And so, that would be so rewarding for all the work that I've done to achieve greatness in the sport. But I think beyond that, I really want to be able to do something and make a difference with the platform that I have earned and hopefully will expand on in the future.”

Gu, who grew up in the United States, addressed her decision to represent China in the Olympics on her Instagram. “This was an incredibly tough decision for me to make. I am extremely thankful for the US Ski & Snowboard and the Chinese Ski Association for having the vision and belief in me to make my dreams come true. I am proud of my heritage, and equally proud of my American upbringings.”

3. She was accepted into her dream school, Stanford

Gu shared the moments before she found out she was accepted to Stanford in an Instagram video. “This is my dream school, this the school I’ve wanted to go to since I was literally six years old. It’s the only dream I’ve had for longer than my dream of going to the Olympics,” she says. “So, it’s a very big deal for me personally. I’ve always been a huge advocate for education and to be able to… go to this school has motivated me to push through a lot of hard stuff when I was balancing skiing and school.”

4. She has a side job in modelling

Gu has had her fair share of fashion shoots both in the United States and in China. She’s often featured in Vogue China, Elle, Grazia and Harper’s Bazaar.Gu has said that her “first big magazine cover” was for InStyle magazine back in 2019. She’s also been spotted at fashion shows in both Paris and New York.

5. Gu is vocal about women empowerment in the sports world

Gu opened up to NBC Sports, saying that early in her career she struggled to come to terms with the lack of female representation in skiing. “It wasn’t until I was 14 that I had any female ski friends who were my level,” she said. “So, I was constantly thinking, ‘Do I have to prove myself? I’m the only girl here. Do I have to do a bigger trick? Do I have to make myself seem better so people won’t laugh at women’s skiing?’”

In 2019, Gu provided the voiceover for an Adidas advertisement about women’s empowerment, where she read from an essay she wrote in Year 7 discussing Title IX, a US law that protects people from discrimination on the basis of sex in college sports.

See more Gen.T honourees from the Sports category of the Gen.T List 2020

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