The Gen Z sports icon speaks to Jing Daily at Watches and Wonders in Geneva about balancing classes and competitions and using her platform responsibly.
Olympic gold medalist Eileen Gu has transfixed the sports, luxury and fashion worlds. Known as Gu Ailing in China, the California-born superstar has excelled in professional freestyle skiing, the half pipe, slope style and big air events, making controversial headlines when she competed for China instead of the US in the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics — and earned two gold medals in the process.
“I think I’m really blessed with the platform I have,” the 19-year-old tells Jing Daily at Watches & Wonders 2023 in Geneva, where she was a guest as a brand ambassador of IWC Schaffhausen. “And with that comes a lot of responsibility. I think that as a young person, the reach that you have is a new way to define your voice… And so what you do with that suddenly becomes a lot more meaningful because you have the opportunity to have a much broader reach nowadays than you could 10 years ago or in previous generations.”
Besides being an Olympic champion, Gu is also a sought-after brand ambassador, working with top-tier luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton and Tiffany & Co. With model-esque looks, multicultural and multilingual Gu (who speaks fluent Mandarin with a Beijing accent) is a China marketer’s dream. China’s obsession with Gu in no small part drove a boom in the country’s snow sports scene, inspiring many young fans to take up skiing and snowboarding.
With her fame, the Asian American athlete is “encouraging people to be unafraid to break their boundaries, to be unafraid of failure, to redefine what beauty is in the context of femininity and power,” says Gu. “And also to discover their own style. Go outside and be confident and make friends. I feel all these are things sport has brought to me… and a lot of people have not had the opportunity to experience it.”
Flying around the world, staying in competitive form and pursuing commercial endeavors — Gu’s life might seem hectic to others. But she’s a pro at multitasking: “I think that when you do a bunch of different things, you maintain the passion and you maintain the efficiency within each one of them individually.”
Her talent and competitive streak has taken her to the X Games, World Championships and, of course, the Olympics. These achievements are all the more impressive considering she’s balancing student life at Stanford, where she has taken classes in quantum physics and political science, and being a normal teen. Continue to read the full article here