Eileen Gu is one of the most exciting prospects in freestyle skiing, and won three medals (two gold, one silver) at the Winter Youth Olympic Games (YOG) Lausanne 2020.

Her ultimate sporting goal is to win Olympic gold, and she has the chance to do so on home snow at Beijing 2022.

Eileen also acknowledges how she can use her platform as an elite athlete to inspire the next generation of female athletes.

The importance of Lausanne 2020

Looking back at the YOG, I think it was such an amazing experience for me for a lot of reasons. One of them was that it was actually my first big air contest ever, so it was also my first time doing three events [with slopestyle and halfpipe] and really juggling the practice and the competitions back-to-back-to-back. Managing that pressure consistently for a week straight taught me a lot.

I’d been to a few World Cups prior to competing at the Youth Olympic Games, and I had won a World Cup already, but still, it truly felt like a world-class competition. And with the ceremonies and all the athletes staying together from different sports, that was definitely a highlight for me as well, meeting the bobsleigh team or the hockey team from different countries – people who I wouldn’t normally meet just at a ski competition. So, it was truly a global thing, and that contributed to this atmosphere of feeling like a world-class event.

Beijing on the horizon

I think the Olympic Games mean so much to every athlete, no matter where you’re from, but right now I think the Olympic Games have a very special meaning in China, just because it’s serving to act as a platform to introduce the sport to so, so many people who previously had never heard of it.

China has an ambition to get 300 million people on snow before the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022, and so there’s this burgeoning and explosive opportunity to introduce the sport and passion for sport to so many people. Having that platform to be able to compete in, and bring awareness to, the sport and encourage young girls and teenagers everywhere, I think is really special.

I think that sport really has the power to unite people, and that’s part of the reason why I chose to ski for China. To be able to introduce sport culture to China that I’ve learned in the US and to bring back aspects that I love about China and Chinese culture to the US is amazing, and sport can definitely act as a bridge.

Being an inspiration

My ultimate goal is to win Olympic gold. That to me is just representative of excellence in sport; it’s the top achievement undisputedly. It would be so rewarding for all the work that I’ve done to achieve greatness in the sport. But beyond that, I really want to be able to do something and make a difference with the platform that I have earned and hopefully will expand on in the future.

If I’m 80 years old and looking back at my life, I don’t think the number of medals is going to matter as much as memories of reading messages from young girls saying that I was the one who inspired them to start skiing, or who showed them that it was possible to do bigger tricks and that women could do it too.

To be able to inspire them – that’s a really big thing for me. And I also just want to enjoy the experience. And my biggest ambition is just to make a difference and to be able to utilise those opportunities for the greater good.

Want to hear more from Olympians and their stories? Check out the exclusive Athlete365 webinars featuring Eliud Kipchoge, Yusra Mardini, and others.

If I’m 80 years old and looking back at my life, I don’t think the number of medals is going to matter as much as memories of reading messages from young girls saying that I was the one who inspired them to start skiing

Eileen Gu