September 23, 2023

Eileen Gu: Sport and trend aren’t so completely different for the Chinese language-American skier and mannequin

Eileen Gu: Sport and trend aren’t so completely different for the Chinese language-American skier and mannequin
Written by Oscar Holland, CNN

Interview by Coy Wire, CNN

If Eileen Gu’s account of final Saturday’s Freestyle Ski World Cup occasion in Calgary is something to go by, a day within the Olympian’s life is as diversified as it’s busy: She took first place in morning qualifiers, wrote two essays, learn some René Descartes and George Berkeley for a philosophy class after which “did some physics” earlier than returning to the slopes for the ultimate.

“I gained that, got here again,” she continued, casually brushing over her first competitors look since final 12 months’s Winter Olympics, “proof-read my essay… turned it in, referred to as it an evening at 10 p.m. and hit the hay. In order that was a kind of days.”

This time final 12 months, American-born Gu was lower than two weeks away from making her Olympic debut in Beijing, representing China, her mom’s nation of delivery. As one of many Video games’ most closely sponsored athletes, she was already a recognizable face. However few outdoors the snowboarding world had seen her in motion. Any suggestion that her talents had been overstated quickly dissolved as she took house three medals, together with golds within the halfpipe and massive air competitions.

Within the 12 months since, Gu has enrolled as an undergraduate at Stanford College and been named amongst Time journal’s 100 most influential individuals. She has additionally bolstered her fame as a extremely sought-after mannequin. In Could, she made her runway debut for Louis Vuitton — in a torso-bearing outfit from the label’s Cruise 2023 assortment — and has starred on the covers of Vogue Hong Kong and Singapore’s version of Harper’s Bazaar in latest months.
Gu makes her runway debut at Louis Vuitton's 2023 Cruise show in San Diego, California in May 2022.

Gu makes her runway debut at Louis Vuitton’s 2023 Cruise present in San Diego, California in Could 2022. Credit score: Jerod Harris/Getty Pictures

“Folks all the time assume that trend and snowboarding are these two utterly disparate entities … when in actuality, the core elements are literally very related,” she mentioned, talking to CNN sports activities anchor and correspondent Coy Wire forward of this weekend’s Winter X Video games in Aspen, Colorado.

“Each are rooted in a way of self-expression and creativity. Each require a variety of confidence, having the ability to carry out underneath strain, and having the ability to be your self unapologetically. And I feel that these qualities actually do carry over.”

Not solely do sport, faculty and trend overlap, they contribute to 1 one other, mentioned Gu, depicting the juggling act as a matter of symbiosis, not compromise. What she learns in psychology applies to snowboarding, which in flip sparks creativity that she carries into trend; modeling in the meantime gives classes in resilience and confidence which can be then utilized to her faculty work — “so all of it goes in a circle,” she mentioned.

Watch: Coy Wire interviews Eileen Gu forward of the Winter X Video games

(Picture by Patrick Smith/Getty Pictures of Gu competing on the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics.)

Hurtling down a halfpipe could have little in widespread with strolling a runway however “all of it’s related,” the 19-year-old mentioned. Drawn to motion sports activities for the sense that she is “continually pushing” her personal boundaries, Gu mentioned snowboarding leaves her feeling “like I am able to something.”

“As a result of if I can push my physique to do a double cork, who says I am unable to add one other 180 (levels rotation)? Or if you wish to flip it into one other space of my life, who says I am unable to get a greater rating on the subsequent take a look at, or shoot my dream journal?”

“Magnificence is energy,” she later added. “And wonder is having the ability to be sturdy, not simply in what your physique seems like, but in addition what your physique can do.”

Eileen Gu reacts after her final jump before winning gold during the Women's Freestyle Skiing Freeski Big Air Final at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games on February 8, 2022.

Eileen Gu reacts after her last leap earlier than profitable gold in the course of the Ladies’s Freestyle Snowboarding Freeski Huge Air Closing on the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Video games on February 8, 2022. Credit score: Mao Jianjun/China Information Service/Getty Pictures

Model ‘characterised by stability’

The California-raised athlete — whose choice to symbolize China provoked criticism from some quarters within the US — has lengthy been considering trend. Having “stolen little items” from her mother’s closet as a baby, Gu attended her first trend week, in Paris, aged 15. The expertise was, she mentioned, “completely life-changing.”

“Simply seeing the best way artwork can really be placed on the physique, and the way expressive it may be in a present. (It is) not simply in regards to the individuals carrying the garments and the way they appear … but in addition in regards to the ambiance, the music, the set — there’s a lot that goes into it.”

She describes her private model, like a lot else in her life, as “characterised by stability” — “between masculine and female, between elegant and sporty, between playful and mature.

“All of these actually are completely different aspects of my life, and relying on the day, I discover trend is a good way for me to specific how I really feel … I look completely different every single day, even inside a number of hours. However that is what’s enjoyable about it.”

Gu is signed with IMG Fashions, the company behind Kate Moss, Bella Hadid and extra of trend’s largest names. She has labored with Victoria’s Secret, Tiffany & Co., Swiss watchmaker IWC and cosmetics big Estée Lauder (in addition to quite a lot of manufacturers in China, together with café chain Luckin Espresso, telecoms agency China Cellular and Inside Mongolia’s Mengniu Dairy).

Gu attends the 2022 Met Gala at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

Gu attends the 2022 Met Gala at The Metropolitan Museum of Artwork in New York Metropolis. Credit score: Theo Wargo/WireImage/Getty Pictures

These offers helped set up Gu because the third-highest-paid feminine athlete on this planet final 12 months, based on Forbes, which estimated her 2022 earnings at over $20 million. She additionally hopes the visibility could make her a task mannequin for younger ladies and aspiring athletes — the type she mentioned she lacked when she was younger.

“For me, rising up, there weren’t that many ladies within the ski business,” she mentioned, including: “I am younger and I am making an attempt to do my finest, and I simply wish to be the person who a lady at house can see on TV or on their telephone and say, ‘Hey, you realize, if she will do this, then I wish to attempt it, too. She seems like she’s having enjoyable. When can I attempt?'”

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