Free ski star Eileen Gu — the 18-year-old American skier, who’s competing for her mother’s native China at the Beijing Winter Olympics — had herself a day on the slopes Monday.
Gu, in her first Olympics, qualified for the Big Air Freestyle final, which will take place on Tuesday at the Big Air Shougang.
It wasn’t an easy feat, though. Gu had lost a ski on her second jump, worrying fans that her chance at making the final was in jeopardy. But a solid third jump pushed her up to fifth place and secured her place in the finals.
Gu, a San Francisco native, has been under a microscope while competing in the 2022 Winter Games, following her decision to represent China, the country where her mother grew up. Her father is American.
“I would not feel satisfied if I didn’t make finals,” Gu told USA Today on Monday. “I was just focusing on the trick itself. I wasn’t thinking about there are people who want to watch me or that there was this pressure on me. It’s a right 9 (or jump with 2 ½ rotations). I’ve been doing right 9s since I was 14, and I know I can do that trick so I was just kind of talking to myself in that way.”
Ahead of the games, critics questioned Gu’s decision to compete for China instead of Team USA.
Jen Hudak, a former Winter X Games gold medalist for the USA women’s team, told The Post last week that while it’s “not [her] place to judge,” Gu’s decision “makes [her] sad.”
Gu is favored to win multiple individual golds at the Beijing Games.
After having competed for the United States during the 2018-2019 World Cup season, Gu announced that she would represent China in the Winter Games.
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“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,” she wrote on Instagram at the time.
“Through skiing, I hope to unite people, promote common understanding, create communication, and forge friendships between nations.”
Gu, who turns 19 in September, has plans to attend Stanford after the Olympics. She began competing internationally in 2018, while still in high school.
The athlete is also an IMG model. She shot a campaign with Louis Vuitton last December in the Italian Dolomites, where she won her first freeski World Cup. Gu also signed with Victoria’s Secret.