the westminster news
Published by the students of Westminster School
By Alice Tao ’24
In June 2019, freeskier Eileen Gu made a decision that would change the future of freeskiing.
Fifteen-year-old Eileen Gu chose to switch from Team USA to represent her mother’s homeland China, with the hope to compete in the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. She explained on Instagram that this was her opportunity to inspire millions of young Chinese girls while promoting the sport she truly loves to a country where freeskiing was a weakness. She expressed her ambition to help push China in focusing more on snow sports. This surprising announcement shocked millions of fans globally, including infuriated ones who did not understand why.
Born and raised in San Francisco, California, Gu speaks fluent English and Mandarin. Her Chinese mother Yan Gu always emphasized and imprinted the Chinese culture and values in her daughter and raised her to appreciate her roots. During her childhood in Beijing, her mixed-race appearance would force her to stand out among the locals, which she wasn’t too happy about. She stated, “I feel Chinese in China, and American in America.”
Eileen Gu is fast becoming a household name since her debut as a Chinese freeskier and has graced the covers of several fashion magazines. She is the face of many international fashion houses such as Louis Vuitton, Tiffany & Co, and Victoria’s Secret. It seems like her life is on the right track to success. In December 2020, Gu received acceptance to Stanford University, which was her biggest dream aside from competing in the Olympics. She proved to herself and the world that athletes can excel academically too. Gu scored 1580 out of 1600 in the SATs while graduating high school a year early to prepare for the Beijing Olympics.
On the ski slopes, Eileen is unstoppable. Her 2021 started with two golds at the Winter X Games, becoming the first female rookie to win two gold medals and the first Chinese to win gold in the event’s history. While breaking countless barriers, Eileen’s winning streak does not end there. She continued the feat at the 2021 FIS Snowboard and Freeski World Championships in Aspen, where she won multiple golds with a broken finger. Later in the year, Gu became the first women’s skier to land a double cork 1440 in Austria. She continues to stun the world as she breaks records and records.
Gu is favored to win half-pipe, big air, and slopestyle in the Beijing 2022 Olympics. Let’s follow along with genius Eileen Gu’s Olympic journey.