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ZHANGJIAKOU, China, Feb 4 (Reuters) – Freestyle skier Eileen Gu is already a social media darling in China and the Beijing Winter Games medal hopeful is being celebrated as much for her fashion as her sporting prowess.
The U.S.-born freestyle skier, who competes for China, is also well known for her modeling and academic background and has gained immense popularity among young netizens.
In her latest post on Xiaohongshu, also known as RED, a Chinese social media and e-commerce app that resembles Instagram, Gu posed wearing a tiger hat celebrating the Lunar New Year inside the “closed-loop” of the Games and captioned “Olympic fashion” in Chinese.
The post was published on Feb. 2 and has so far gained about 24,000 likes.
“Go! Don’t stress, just do your best!,” said one of the top comments.
“Cool girl. Happy New Year, Ailing,” said another, using her Chinese name.
On China’s Twitter-like Weibo (9898.HK), the 18-year-old skier has some 1.4 million followers, where she constantly posts her brand partnerships.
This week, clips from her upcoming documentary quickly sent her trending on Weibo.
For the upcoming events at the Beijing Winter Olympics, Gu is competing in three freestyle disciplines — halfpipe, big air and slopestyle.
The freestyle skier became the first Chinese athlete to win gold in the X Games after deciding in 2019 to compete for China, where her mother was born. Last year, Gu became the first female skier to land double cork 1440 in a freeskiing event.
Gu’s first event is scheduled to be the women’s freeski big air qualifying session on Feb. 7.
This week Gu posted on Instagram that one of her goals was to spread the sport she loves, particularly in China.
“Going into my first Olympics, my goal is to simply do my best, enjoy the process, and continue to inspire others and be inspired by this sport and everyone in it,” she said.
Reporting by Winni Zhou and Mari Saito; Editing by Peter Rutherford
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