5 Things You Should Know About Freestyle Skier and Olympic Gold Medalist Eileen Gu

Freestyle skier Eileen Gu wears many hats — most recently, Olympic champ — but the one that may be most important to her is role model. Gu, who was born and raised in California, has been outspoken about her mission to inspire young Chinese skiers since making the decision to compete for China back in 2019. "I am proud of my heritage, and equally proud of my American upbringings," Gu wrote on Instagram. "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 . . . If I can help to inspire one young girl to break a boundary, my wishes will have come true." To say she's achieved that at the Beijing Games would be an understatement.

Gu is widely hailed as the best in her sport. However, there's a lot more to this athlete than shiny hardware and spectacular stunts. Not only is Gu a pianist (she asked for a keyboard in her room in Beijing), but she's also a full-time model and ambassador for some of the world's most luxurious brands. Keep reading to learn more about the Olympic gold medalist, who's just getting started.

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She's the First Woman to Win 3 X Games Medals as a Rookie

At the 2021 X Games, Gu became the first woman ever to win three medals as a rookie, with a gold medal in both freeski superpipe and slopestyle and a bronze medal in freeski big air. With that, she also became the first athlete representing China to win a gold medal at the X Games, across both men's and women's disciplines. "It was [a] huge deal to me," Gu told Forbes. "That was the main reason that I decided to ski for China, to make that history and be that inspiration for a new generation of freeskiers, especially younger Chinese freeskiers."


She Made Forbes China's 30 Under 30 Entertainment and Sports List

In 2020, Gu was bestowed yet another honor, making Forbes China's 30 Under 30 for entertainment and sports. At 17, the freestyle skier was the youngest person to make the exclusive list, and one of only three Winter Olympians to be included.

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She's the First Woman to Land a Double Cork 1440 in Freeski Big Air

In 2021, Gu became the first woman in her sport to successfully land a double cork 1440. The aerial stunt is incredibly difficult and requires skiers to complete four corkscrews and two flips in the air. Gu debuted the trick during her final run at the 2021 Steamboat Freeski Big Air competition, where she won gold.


She's Responsible For China's First Freeski Slopestyle Competition

Ahead of the 2022 Winter Olympics, Gu shared her personal and emotional connection to China's first freeski competition. "I was 'coaching' a small Chinese trampoline summer camp in Beijing when we all gathered in front of the TV to watch the Olympic 2022 bid. Even then, I was resolute to achieve the two equally ambitious goals of 1) competing in the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics and 2) spreading the (then-unheard of) sport of freeskiing in China," Gu wrote on Instagram. "Having been introduced to the sport growing up in the US, I wanted to encourage Chinese skiers the same way my American role models inspired me. Nine years ago, I pitched the idea of a freeski competition. The result was the first slopestyle competition in China. Ever."

Interest in winter sports in China has increased astronomically over the last decade. Gu added that more than 300 million Chinese people have started playing winter sports, a reference to a target set by the Olympic organizers. "I've always said my goal is to globally spread the sport I love to kids, especially girls, and to shift sport culture toward one motivated by passion . . . I'm blown away by how far we have come."

She's a Full-Time Model
Getty | Bertrand Rindoff Petroff

She's a Full-Time Model

When Gu isn't standing atop the winner's podium, she's modeling for luxury brands Louis Vuitton and Tiffany, and gracing the cover of Elle China and Vogue Hong Kong. Since signing with IMG Models Worldwide, she's joined the Victoria's Secret Collective and attended Paris Fashion Week and the Met Gala.