US-born Chinese ‘Frog Princess’ could reign over Beijing 2022

SHANGHAI: Born in California and representing the United States earlier than switching to China, teenager Eileen Gu appears to be like destined to be one of many faces of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics.

The 17-year-old is a freeskier, mannequin and grade-A scholar with an American father and Chinese mom. She grew up and nonetheless lives within the United States.

But in June 2019 she made the “incredibly tough” determination to compete for China, a minnow in ski sports activities however with grand ambitions.

The world’s most populous nation is scheduled to host the Winter Olympics for the primary time a yr from now, though the coronavirus pandemic and boycott calls threaten to solid a pall over preparations.

Gu, who was 15 when she pledged her allegiance to China, wrote on Instagram that she was “proud of my heritage and equally proud of my American upbringings”.

But Gu, identified in Chinese as “Gu Ailing”, stated: “The opportunity to help inspire millions of young people where my mom was born … is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to help to promote the sport I love.”

China received only one gold medal on the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Games in South Korea however the Chinese-speaking Gu has been enthusiastically embraced with the nation’s media affectionately dubbing her “Frog Princess” after a inexperienced helmet she wore.

Freestyle skier Eileen Gu, also known as Gu Ailing, was born in San Francisco but could be one of

Freestyle skier Eileen Gu, also called Gu Ailing, was born in San Francisco however could be one of many faces of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics after electing to compete for China. (Photo: AFP/STR)

“I was raised bilingual and spent every summer in Beijing so I know Chinese culture and American culture as well,” she informed the state Xinhua information company this week.

“So I have that dual identity, where together, two halves make a whole for me.”

Gu graduated from a San Francisco highschool final yr, 12 months early, so she could overlook her research for a bit and concentrate on her Beijing 2022 coaching.

She reportedly scored 1,580 factors out of a most 1,600 within the SAT, the take a look at used for faculty admissions within the United States, and has been provided a spot at Stanford.

A trend lover, Gu has featured in shiny magazines such because the Chinese editions of Vogue, Cosmopolitan and Harper’s Bazaar, and already has a raft of economic offers, together with with drinks big Red Bull.


But for all of the modelling shoots and visits to Milan and Paris trend weeks, it’s her performances in freestyle snowboarding which have earmarked her as a possible star at Beijing 2022 and past.

Gu began on the snow on the age of three, was in nationwide competitors at 9 and received her first World Cup occasion at 15.

She claimed two gold medals and a silver for China on the 2020 Youth Olympic Games in Lausanne.

Underlining her medal credentials for 2022, Gu made her debut on the X Games in Aspen, Colorado on the weekend – and promptly received two golds.

No lady had ever performed that on their debut within the 25-year historical past of the X Games and Gu was additionally the primary Chinese winner.

It prompted Xinhua on Monday to run a 1,000-word characteristic with the headline: “17-year-old Eileen Gu, next Chinese sports icon?”

It ramps up the strain on her for Beijing 2022 and {the teenager}, who can also be a cross-country runner, is doing little to minimize expectations.

“My goal is to win Olympic gold,” she informed the official Olympic web site.

“That to me is just representative of excellence in sport, it’s the top achievement, undisputedly.

“That could be so rewarding for all of the work that I’ve performed to realize greatness within the sport.”

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