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Who is the California-born superstar freestyle skier aiming to win gold for China?

Who is the California-born superstar freestyle skier aiming to win gold for China?
The 19-year-old athlete from San Francisco is favourite in three Beijing events

She is the 加利福尼亚州-born freestyle skiing superstar who is set to take the Winter Olympics by storm.

Eileen Gu, 18, is a favorite to win gold at 北京 in all three of the sport’s main events: the big air, slopestyle and halfpipe.

But the San Francisco native, who has a Chinese mother and 美国人 father, will try and secure Olympic titles for 中国, instead of Team USA.

Gu, who was raised by her mother and maternal grandmother and learned to ski on the slopes of Tahoe, 加利福尼亚州, announced she was switching her allegiance to China in 2019, at the age of just 15.

“This was an incredibly tough decision for me to make,” Gu, who is nicknamed Snow Princess in China, wrote on Instagram when she announced it.

<p> Eileen Gu of Team China competes in the Women's Freeski Slopestyle Final at the Toyota U.S. Grand Prix at Mammoth Mountain on January 09, 2022 in Mammoth, 加利福尼亚磷. </p>

Eileen Gu of Team China competes in the Women’s Freeski Slopestyle Final at the Toyota U.S. Grand Prix at Mammoth Mountain on January 09, 2022 in Mammoth, 加利福尼亚州.

“The opportunity to help inspire millions of young people where my mom was born, 在此期间 2022 Beijing Olympic Winter Games is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to help to promote the sport I love.

“Through skiing, I hope to unite people, promote common understanding, create communication, and forge friendships between nations.”

Gu obtained a Chinese passport after her decision, although it is unknown whether she renounced her American passport in doing so.

The International Olympic Committee requires athletes to hold passports for the countries they compete for, and China does not recognise dual nationality.

But as a 15 year-old, US law means that she would not have been able to relinquish her American citizenship at that time, which the State Department say can only be done after 16.

One of her main sponsors, 红牛, wrote on their website that Gu had given up her US citizenship, before taking that passage down.

“Nobody can deny I’m American, nobody can deny I’m Chinese,” Gu told The South China Morning Post 在一个 2021 面试.

Gu, who is a brand ambassador for lingerie company Victoria’s Secret, 蒂芙尼 & 公司. and Adidas, graduated from the prestigious University High School in San Francisco, and will attend Stanford University in 2022 after the Olympics.

She is also signed to the IMG modeling agency and has appeared on the cover of 时尚Elle magazines in China.

While she has more than 240,000 Instagram 上的追随者, Gu, who is known in China by her Mandarin name Ailing, has more than 1.3m followers on Sina Weibo.

Gu delivered a historic performance at her 2021 X Games debut in Aspen, 科罗拉多州, medalling in all three events, including golds in the halfpipe and Slopestyle, as well as a bronze in big air.

In doing so she became the first athlete representing China to win an X Games gold.

“This is something I wouldn’t even dare to dream of. I came into this contest with a goal of getting one podium, and I thought that was ambitious. It’s really just the adrenaline of my first X Games and being so hyped to be here that it was able to get me through,” she said after her victories.

When Beijing becomes the first city to host a Summer and Winter Olympics, it will do so with considerable controversy.

A coalition of human rights groups have called for a boycott of the games because of China’s treatment of the Uighurs, which has been classified as genocide by the US government.

President Joe Biden has also enforced a US diplomatic boycott of the Games, which has been followed by Canada, Australia and Britain, who will not send any officials to the event.

Gu has refused to comment on human rights issues in her adopted home country, but she told Time magazine that she believed sports was a force of change.

“It’s really easy to use sport as a form of unity and communication and friendship, because everybody is working toward a common goal,“ 她说.

“Because sport really is blind to race, 性别, religion and nationality; it’s all just about pushing the human limit.”