Chinese American skier Eileen Gu broke the Chinese internet after winning the gold medal at her Olympic Games debut.
Tens of millions of social media users immediately went to Weibo to celebrate after Gu, 18, finished in first place at the women’s big air freestyle skiing competition on Tuesday with a total score of 188.25, narrowly beating France’s Tess Ledeux, who won silver with a score of 187.50, according to CNN.
— Beijing Winter Olympics Enjoyer 🇨🇳 ☭ (@Dragondescendan) February 8, 2022
“That was the best moment of my life. The happiest moment, day, whatever — of my life. I just cannot believe what just happened,” Gu told Olympics reporters after the win.
Tuesday’s event became a popular discussion topic on China’s Weibo, with seven out of the 10 trending topics that day being all about Gu’s victory. Related hashtags about the young athlete, such as “Gu Ailing won the gold medal,” also garnered more than over 300 million views in the span of an hour, resulting in a temporary crash of the Weibo website due to the high volume of traffic.
“Dad was Harvard, Mom was Peking University, Stanford, Grandmother was an athlete. She’s beautiful and classy,” read one of the most popular Weibo posts praising Gu. The post has been shared more than 86,000 times, according to the Associated Press.
The Beijing Municipal Government and Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Beijing Committee also congratulated Gu – who they referred to by her Chinese name – on social media following her gold medal win: “We are glad to hear that Gu Ailing, a Beijing athlete, won a precious gold medal for the Chinese sports delegation and honored for the country with her perfect performance in the final of the women’s freestyle ski platform at the Beijing Winter Olympic Games.”
Eileen Gu wins GOLD! 🥇
— NBC Olympics (@NBCOlympics) February 8, 2022
Speaking to reporters, Gu explained that she used her experience in music to pull off her first-ever attempt at a leftside double cork 1620 in the finals that landed her on the top of the podium, KSN reported.
“I’ve never done it before, but I actually felt pretty confident going into it. I’ve played piano for 9 years, so I am very attuned to a sense of rhythm,” she said in a post-event press conference. “I think of all my tricks as a rhythm, and music. The wind in my ears, the speed in my turn as I spin, it speeds up. There’s a change in tempo.”
Gu also shared that she considered trying out a new move after realizing that she was close behind Swiss skier Mathilde Gremaud, who ended up winning bronze.
“I was guaranteed a podium spot when I dropped in, I was only 0.25 points behind Mathilde (Gremaud) and I was thinking, ‘Should I improve on my previous one and go for the silver or should I whip out this random trick I’d never done before and go for gold?’” she added.
Affectionately known to her fans as the “Snow Princess,” Gu was born to an American father and a Chinese mother in San Francisco. She announced in 2019 that she would be competing for China at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, a move that drew criticism from some American athletes, NextShark previously reported.
It remains unclear if Gu is still a U.S. citizen as China does not reportedly recognize dual-citizenship. She also avoided questions about the matter during a press conference on Tuesday.
Featured Image via NBC Sports