Eileen Gu: Sport and vogue aren’t so totally 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 assorted 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 type 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 beginning. 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 popularity as a extremely sought-after mannequin. In Might, 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 present in San Diego, California in Might 2022. Credit score: Jerod Harris/Getty Photographs

“Folks at all times assume that vogue and snowboarding are these two fully disparate entities … when in actuality, the core points are literally very comparable,” she stated, 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 loads of confidence, with the ability to carry out below stress, and with the ability to be your self unapologetically. And I believe that these qualities actually do carry over.”

Not solely do sport, college and vogue overlap, they contribute to at least one one other, stated 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 vogue; modeling in the meantime gives classes in resilience and confidence which are then utilized to her school work — “so all of it goes in a circle,” she stated.

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

(Picture by Patrick Smith/Getty Photographs 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 stated. Drawn to motion sports activities for the sense that she is “always pushing” her personal boundaries, Gu stated 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 with the ability to be robust, not simply in what your physique seems like, but additionally what your physique can do.”

Model ‘characterised by steadiness’

The California-raised athlete — whose determination to characterize China provoked criticism from some quarters within the US — has lengthy been fascinated by vogue. Having “stolen little items” from her mother’s closet as a baby, Gu attended her first vogue week, in Paris, aged 15. The expertise was, she stated, “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 concerning the individuals carrying the garments and the way they appear … but additionally concerning the environment, the music, the set — there’s a lot that goes into it.”

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

“All of these actually are totally different aspects of my life, and relying on the day, I discover vogue is an effective way for me to specific how I really feel … I look totally different on daily basis, 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 vogue’s largest names. She has labored with Victoria’s Secret, Tiffany & Co., Swiss watchmaker IWC and cosmetics large Estée Lauder (in addition to a wide range of manufacturers in China, together with café chain Luckin Espresso, telecoms agency China Cell 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 Photographs

These offers helped set up Gu because the third-highest-paid feminine athlete on the earth final 12 months, in accordance with Forbes, which estimated her 2022 earnings at over $20 million. She additionally hopes the visibility could make her a job mannequin for younger women and aspiring athletes — the type she stated she lacked when she was younger.

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

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