Eileen Gu claims her first gold with a trick she had never tried

BEIJING, CHINA - FEBRUARY 8 : Eileen Gu wins the gold medal during the Olympic Games 2022, Women's Freeski Big Air on February 8, 2022 in Zhangjiakou China. (Photo by Christophe Pallot/Agence Zoom/Getty Images)

To earn a gold medal, Eileen Gu required the finest leap of her life. The 18-year-old from California had travelled to her mother’s homeland with the hopes of winning three Winter Olympics events while representing China.

Gu stood on top of the massive, contemporary big air jump, placed in an industrial park amid concrete cooling towers, under the glare of a brilliant sun and the gaze of worldwide news reporters. She was third with one jump remaining.

Her mother named  Yan Gu, a Beijing native, was at the bottom of the jump, attempting to counsel her daughter. 

Do the 1440 again, she said, referring to a four-rotation feat that Gu had already nailed nearly flawlessly. Perhaps it will propel you to a silver medal. Gu had other plans. 

“Mom, executive call here,” she recalls telling her mother. “Vetoed. I’ll create the 16, and you’ll have to deal with it.”

Gu nailed the technique, officially a left double 1620 with a safety grab, for the first time, she added. It won her enough points to propel her to first place. When France’s Tess Ledeux was unable to match Gu’s score, Gu was awarded gold and Ledeux was awarded silver.

As Gu awaited her results, the International Olympic Committee’s president, Thomas Bach, greeted her at the finish line. When the results were announced, spectators in the grandstands applauded and waved little Chinese flags in support of Gu.

“I was hoping it wouldn’t have to come to that,” Gu said of the trick. “To be honest, I’m delighted it happened because I’m grateful to have had the chance to experience it.”

Gu, who was born and reared in California but now competes for China, has garnered international attention — and some controversy — for her decision to represent her mother’s homeland in 2019.

When she reached the age of 15, and the Olympics were over three years away, the choice was scarcely noticed. Gu now leads her sport while straddling a widening geopolitical schism between her two countries.

Eileen’s mother, Yan Gu, was born in Shanghai and reared in Beijing. She is the daughter of a government engineer. She moved to the United States for doctoral studies roughly 30 years ago and resided in San Francisco.

Eileen Gu, reared in an upmarket San Francisco area by her mother, has become a model, representing luxury companies such as Louis Vuitton and Tiffany & Company. She has alot of sponsorships in China and she appears in advertising all the time and receives wonderful news coverage from the state media.

Gu has stated that she wishes to serve as a bridge between the United States and China, as well as to inspire young women and assist China’s fledgling winter sports sector thrive. She and her mother have refused to speak about any of the tough geopolitical problems between the competing countries.

Gu was questioned at least six times after winning the gold medal on Tuesday if she still has US citizenship. Dual citizenship is not permitted in China. She skilfully discussed the support she has gotten from both nations, how she feels Chinese in China and American in the United States, but she never answered the question.

She spent two hours after her triumph giving interviews, avoiding anyone who may criticise her.

“No matter what I say, individuals who don’t have a decent heart won’t trust me because they can’t relate with people who do,” she explained. “In that way, I feel like it’s a lot simpler now to block out the hate.” Also, they’ll never know what it’s like to win an Olympic gold medal.”