Freestyle skiing-"Snow princess" Gu has one more fan to win over - her grandmother

2 minute read

2022 Beijing Olympics - Freestyle Skiing - Women's Freeski - Halfpipe - Qualification - Run 2 - Genting Snow Park, Zhangjiakou, China - February 17, 2022. Gu Ailing Eileen of China reacts after her run. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez

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ZHANGJIAKOU, China, Feb 17 (Reuters) - Eileen Gu may have wowed the world with her skiing performances at the Beijing Games, but she still has one fan left to win over - her grandma, who would much prefer to see her become a doctor or a lawyer, rather than the world's best freestyle skier.

"She's never watched me compete. I don't think she's ever watched me ski," the 18-year-old told reporters with a laugh after coming in first during Thursday's halfpipe qualifiers which assured her of a spot in Friday's final.

"She's going to be unfazed and unimpressed I think," the teen, who has nicknamed the "snow princess", said on Thursday.

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Gu said earlier her grandmother was arriving in China this week to watch her compete for the very first time.

The U.S.-born skier, who was raised by her mother and grandmother in San Francisco but switched to compete for China in 2019, is aiming for three medals at her maiden Olympics. Gu has already won a Big Air gold and a slopestyle silver medal. read more

Gu said she was eager to impress her grandmother.

"I'm super honoured to have her here. She's always the one saying 'be safe, be safe, just land'," she said, adding that her grandmother had not yet accepted that Gu was a professional skier.

"She said 'you're just doing it for fun. You can go be a doctor or lawyer later'," Gu said.

Gu has previously described her grandmother, who was a basketball player at university, as a "fiercely confident" woman who instilled in her a deeply competitive streak.

"She's the funniest person, she has so much ferocity and fearlessness," Gu said, adding that despite her "tiny" stature she was energetic and "happy all the time".

"I'm happy to show her my sport and my passion," Gu said.

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Reporting by Winni Zhou and Philip O'Connor; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman

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