Freestyle medalist Eileen Gu wins fashion stakes
Moving between three cities in as many days, 19-year-old Olympic champion Eileen Gu has been rather busy recently.
The superstar freestyle skier appeared on August 1 in Shanghai to join a talk with Ned Wills, managing director of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, at the luxury watchmaker IWC's flagship boutique in Shanghai's HKRI Taikoo Hui.
After bringing home two gold and one silver medals from the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, Gu became the only action sports athlete to win three medals at the same Olympic Games. That made her the youngest freestyle skiing Olympic gold medallist in history.
Gu is also a favorite face in the fashion and luxury world with endorsements and sponsorship deals that span domestic and international brands.
"I don't want to be an icon. I hope I could be everyone's friend," she said sincerely, as she generously shared her growth and experiences over the past year since the Olympics.
With her non-stop schedule of public engagements, awards-show red carpets, and brand partner appearances, the 19-year-old is also a "straight A" student and "huge nerd" who studies quantum physics at Stanford University in the United States, showing as much talent in the classroom as on the slopes.
She hasn't chosen her major yet. As a college freshman, Gu has spent the year studying a wide range of subjects, including philosophy, economics and international relations. "I also took a course in traditional Chinese medicine and sleep science," she said.
The biggest challenge, Gu joked, is the dorm life. "This is quite a new experience for me to live with roommates, which I've never had before," she said.
This May, the double Olympic champion won the "Laureus World Action Sportsperson of the Year" award at the 2023 Laureus World Sports Awards in Paris, where she rubbed shoulders with the world's best athletes.
"Oh, it's very, very heavy," Gu said with a big grin, as she brought her trophy to the talk in Shanghai. "Sport is a unique avenue for people to connect through a shared passion, to break limits and to improve their self confidence, resilience, and creativity – for kids and girls in particular. It is a cause that is integral to building a better future."
Managing director Wills joined the talk and congratulated Gu on her recent award. He shared more about the work of Laureus Sport for Good and the organization's long-term partnership with IWC.
"When forward-thinking people and organizations like Eileen Gu, IWC and Laureus unite, they can ignite real change for not only the sports community but also a better future for all," he said. "We can achieve greatness alone – but together, anything is possible."
As IWC brand ambassador, Gu has her own understanding of time. "One single second is very quick for others, but for me, it lasts a long time," she said.
Every time she skis, spins and swoops in the air, she needs to think about a multitude of things within seconds – what is her best take-off angle, how to maintain her balance, and how to most effectively perform her moves.
It is the same way the athlete manages her busy time schedule of skiing, studying and business. She enjoys the variety, and keeps the same seemingly effortless balance in life as she does on the snow.