The young freestyle skier is a media her much attention at the Beijing Winter Games. But so is her choice not to represent the country where she was born “Gu Ailing, joyous let’s go! One, two, three, four My God!” Darling Whose is Garnering Young Freestyle Skier These words uttered by Chinese sports commentators can be heard in a video that has been spreading like wildfire on social media in the most-populous country on the planet. Success is Garnering The images feature the 18-year-old Eileen Gu, known in China by her Mandarin name Gu Ailing, who has won her first Olympic gold at the Beijing 2022 Winter Games in the Free Ski Big Air event, a high-risk discipline involving jumps and aerial tricks Young Freestyle Skier.
Eileen did not disappoint her fans at the women’s Big Air final run on Tuesday. “I can’t believe it. I’d never tried this jump before,” she said later.
Through skiing I hope to unite people, promote common understanding, create communication and forge friendships between nations
“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,” she wrote on her Instagram account in June 2019 to explain her decision. “Through skiing I hope to unite people, promote common understanding, create communication and forge friendships between nations. If I can help to inspire one young girl to break a boundary, my wishes will have come true.”
But her choice has inspired very mixed feelings in different parts of the world.
So far, Gu has remained on the sidelines of the political friction. She has avoided taking a stand on alleged human-rights abuses by the Chinese government against the Uyghur minority or commenting on the Hong Kong protests, although it is likely that she is following the advice of her inner circle on these matters.
“I am American when I am in the US and I’m Chinese when I’m in China,” she has said on several occasions. It’s unclear what her immigration status is, as China does not allow dual citizenship and the International Olympic Committee makes it a rule for athletes to hold a passport of the country they are representing. Her case may have benefited from an extension of 2020 rules granting permanent residency to foreigners who have achieved international recognition in fields such as sports, science and culture.
In the meantime, China adores Gu Ailing. She has made the covers of the Chinese editions of Vogue, Cosmopolitan and InStyle.
Third-best-paid female athlete According to The Economist, a company wishing to run an ad campaign featuring the teenager must be prepared to dish out in excess of $2 million. The magazine estimated that last year Gu made over $15 million, making her the third-best-paid female athlete in terms of annual income, behind the tennis players Naomi Osaka and Serena Williams.
There is no questioning her athletic abilities. Ever since she began competing at an international level, she has dominated the three freestyle ski events that she is competing in at the Olympics: Big Air, Halfpipe and Slopestyle. She is also the first woman to have successfully performed a forward double cork 1440, which requires four 360º rotations and two flips more than 20 meters up in the air.