Eileen Gu, known as the Chinese “snow princess”, obviously has ice in her veins. Under intense pressure to win her first Olympic gold medal in her home games, the 18-year-old tried and won 1620 – four and a half rounds – for the first time in her competitive career.

It was a measure of the Chinese-born American teenager’s expectations that she Gu had to take first place in the big air Olympic final, where she won the bronze medal after two rounds.

And the risk she took in the style of hers paid off when she scored 94.50 at her third dome by beating Frenchwoman Tess Ledeux – she’s the only other woman to also reach 1620, included in the first round of a final Tuesday.

“I felt confident enough [to try 1620],” Gu said at a packed press conference about being China’s youngest gold medalist at the Winter Olympics.

“I’ve been playing the piano for nine years, so I have a sense of rhythm and everything I do is about changes in rhythm and tempo and I imagine it.

“My motto is to break down your barriers. This is my character “.

Among the spectators of Shougang Park – a former steel mill in western Beijing – was the Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai, accompanied by the president of the International Olympic Committee Thomas Bach.

Her well-being has been a global concern since she claimed on social media in November that she was sexually assaulted by former Chinese Deputy Prime Minister Zhang Gaoli.

Gu speaks English and Mandarin fluently and confidently and answers all of her questions, although some were very diplomatic.

She said she was “happy that Peng was here today” to see her compete and was grateful to be “happy and healthy doing her things here”.

She then fell to her nationality.

In 2019 Gu she moved to China from the United States Mission, where she was born in 2003 to a Chinese mother and an American father.

The change came before China’s first-ever Winter Olympics venue, a controversial game about alleged human rights violations in China, with the United States among several countries announcing a diplomatic boycott of Beijing 2022, as well as geopolitical tensions between the two. . world powers.

She didn’t answer directly if she was still a US citizen, but she said she felt American in the US and Chinese in China.

She will return to California in September as a student at Stanford University. She is a household name in China. She has stylish billboards and stylish magazine covers and has nearly two million followers on the Chinese social media platform Weibo, as well as multiple brand sponsorships and markets, and a side career as a model.

And her position in the host country is set to increase. With two more events coming up in Beijing – sloping and half-pipe style – she could win three gold medals in home games.

“I’m only 18 and I live my best life,” she said.

And it’s great.