US-born Eileen Gu represents China in 2022 Winter Olympics

Katherine Kang, Staff Writer

Eileen Gu won two gold medals and one silver medal in three freestyle skiing events at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics. She became the youngest gold medalist in freestyle skiing and the first freestyle skier to win three medals at a single Olympic games. 

However, it was not only her accomplishments that caught the attention of the masses, but also the country Gu chose to ski for.

Gu, 18 years old, was born and raised in the United States but represented the People’s Republic of China in the Olympics. She has been competing for China since changing her nationality in 2019, and her popularity in China has grown significantly over the past few years. Gu is now the face of over 20 Chinese brands, and she also has millions of followers on the Chinese social media platform Weibo.

However, Gu’s choice to ski for China sparked debates online, especially among Western media outlets. Some people argue that her success as a skier was only made possible due to US equipment, coaches and training, and others believe that Gu has betrayed the country that raised her. Critics also point out that the Chinese nationality law does not allow dual citizenship, but there is no official record that Gu has given up her US citizenship.

Furthermore, Gu’s victories in the Olympics helped China place 3rd for the countries with the most gold medals. If Gu had chosen to represent her birth country instead, Team US, which finished 4th highest in gold, would have taken China’s spot on the podium. This has caused some vocal critics to call her a traitor to America.

Despite being born in the US, Gu has always been connected to China. She was raised by a Chinese immigrant mother, is fluent in Mandarin Chinese and visited Beijing most summers of her life.

“When I’m in the US, I’m American, but when I’m in China, I’m Chinese,” Gu often says. She remains neutral with the status of her nationalities, embracing both cultures and wishing to bridge the divide between China and the US.