Eileen Gu is showing the world that she thrives in the face of fear.
The San Francisco native won gold Tuesday at the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in China after she landed a bold trick that she had never attempted before in competition.
Under extreme pressure, she launched herself a perfect left double 1620 to win the women’s freeski big air competition.
Gu grew up in San Francisco and learned how to ski from her mother on Lake Tahoe’s snowy slopes.
Her mother, Yan, raised her daughter as a single parent after she emigrated to the U.S. from China three decades ago.
Gu choose to represent her mother’s native country by joining Team China at the Olympic Winter Games.
“When I’m in the U.S., I’m American, but when I’m in China, I’m Chinese,” she said in a past interview. “I do corks in an icy, 22-foot, U-shaped snow structure. That’s not political. It’s pushing the human limit, and it’s connecting people.”
Gu is also a supermodel who has graced the covers of both American and Chinese magazines. She models of Tiffany & Co. and Victoria’s Secret.
The teenager nicknamed “Snow Princess” will attend Stanford University in the fall.
Before Gu arrived at the Olympics for competition, she wrote about how she prepared herself mentally for the biggest stage in sports. She embraces and harnesses fear.
“’Fear’ is really an umbrella term for three distinct sensations: excitement, uncertainty, and pressure. I’ve learned that the nuanced indicators of each of these feelings can be instrumental to success when recognized and positively leveraged, and harbingers of injury when ignored,” Gu wrote in a New York Times column.
The extreme sport athlete lives for getting in “the zone,” she wrote.
She was right in “the zone” when she became the first female skier in history to land a double cork 1440 during a competition last fall.
When Gu stepped on the podium Tuesday, her smile was as bright as her gold medal. She was joined by Silver medalist Tess Ledeux of Team France and Bronze medalist Mathilde Gremaud of Team Switzerland.
She wrote on Instagram, “OLYMPIC GOLD!!! In absolute disbelief still. Thank you friends, family, and fans for all the support and thank you, skiing, for the experiences you have given me. Best day of my life.”
And Gu’s not done yet. Her goal is to also win gold medals in the halfpipe and slopestyle.
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