One of the premier athletes at the 2022 Winter Olympics was born and raised in San Francisco, but her medals aren’t going towards Team USA’s tally.
Eileen Gu is representing the host nation, China, in Beijing. The 18-year-old was born to an American father and a Chinese-born mother, Yan Gu. She lives with her mother and maternal grandmother in San Francisco’s Sea Cliff neighborhood, but she decided in 2019 that she would compete for China.
Since she arrived in Beijing, Gu has taken over the women’s freestyle skiing competition. She won medals in all of her events in Beijing, becoming the first freestyle skier to win three medals at a single Olympics.
Her Games started with a gold medal victory in the inaugural big air event, securing her first ever Olympic medal. She edged France’s Tess Ledeux by just .75 points thanks to a monster 94.50 score on her final run.
Next up was the slopestyle event. Gu came away with silver, edging Estonia’s Kelly Sildaru by 0.17 points as Switzerland’s Mathilde Gremaud earned gold.
Gu wrapped up her Olympic slate with the halfpipe. She proved why it was her best event coming into Beijing, scoring a 93.25 on her first run before improving with a 95.25 on her second run. That was more than enough to earn her a second gold medal, as Canadians Cassie Sharpe (90.75) and Rachael Karker (87.75) came away with silver and bronze, respectively.
Thanks to Gu’s contributions, China is up to 14 medals in Beijing. The nation is 11th in overall medals, but is tied for third in gold medals with eight.
Which other country has eight gold medals right now? The United States.
Team USA is fifth in the overall medal count with 21: eight golds, eight silvers and five bronzes. If Gu had been competing in red, white and blue, the U.S. would have 10 golds, nine silvers, and five bronzes. The 24 medals would vault Team USA up to third in the overall medal count, trailing just the Russian Olympic Committee (26) and Norway (29).
On top of that, if she were representing the U.S., her three medals would make her the most decorated Team USA athlete at these Olympics.
Instead, Gu put together a superstar performance for her mother’s native country.