Gu was born in San Francisco to an American father and a Chinese mother. She began learning how to ski at age three and went professional in 2020 at the age of 16.Although she represented the US for most of her life, Gu chose in 2019 to represent China, where she's also known as Gu Ailing. However, she continues to live in the US.In a June 2019 Instagram post, she explained her decision to compete for China, writing: I am proud of my heritage, and equally proud of my American upbringings.The opportunity to help inspire millions of young people where my mom was born, during the 2022 Beijing Olympic Winter Games is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to help to promote the sport I love, she continued.She is slated to compete in three events at the Beijing Olympics: the women's freeski halfpipe, slopestyle, and big air.Gu and her manager did not immediately respond to Insider's requests for comment for this story.She was also the only woman to compete in three disciplines in the X Games Aspen 2021, where she bagged gold in the women's superpipe and slopestyle, and a bronze in big air, according to Forbes.A two-time world champion in halfpipe and slopestyle, which she earned at the 2021 World Championships, she is widely considered one of China's best hopes to clinch gold in the Olympic ski events.The New York Times describes her training regimen, which includes glacial training in alpine villages in Switzerland, as relentless. She trains on weekdays but flies around the world for photoshoots on weekends, per High Snobiety.In addition to being a sports icon — she's been nicknamed Snow Princess for her prowess on the slopes — Gu is also a prominent figure on social media: She has amassed over two million fans on Weibo, China's Twitter-like platform. And her popularity isn't just in China. She also has more than 324,000 followers on Instagram and more than 113,000 on TikTok.Gu has racked up sponsors in the US and China alike, per a recent report from the New York Post. Red Bull and Beats by Dre number among her American sponsors, and among her Chinese sponsors are the Bank of China, China Mobile, and Mengniu, a dairy company.In addition to these endorsements, she's also the spokesperson for Luckin' Coffee, a coffee chain considered the Starbucks of China, per the Post.These endorsement deals are said to be worth around $2.5 million, according to Shanghai-based media outlet Yicai Global.Some experts estimated her earnings from brand sponsorships in 2021 alone to be worth more than 100 million Chinese yuan, or about $15.8 million, per the report.She was 17 years old when she was included in the exclusive list of the most influential people in Chinese entertainment in sports in 2020.Gu wrote on social media upon receiving the honor: So beyond grateful and humbled be the youngest person listed in the China Forbes 2020 list, as seen in a screenshot on the Olympics website.Among her other accolades are a 2022 ESPY award nomination in the best athlete, women's action sports category, per SCMP. Chinese media outlets have been hailing Gu as the next Yao Ming and a snow princess set to shine at home Olympics.But some US skiers, like Jen Hudak, a former Winter X Games champion, said Gu was opportunistic for deciding to compete for China.She became the athlete she is because she grew up in the United States, Hudak told The New York Post.I think she would have been a different skier if she grew up in China, Hudak added.As China does not recognize dual citizenship, Gu has not explicitly spoken about what citizenship she holds.I'm fully American and look and speak the way I do, she told SCMP. Nobody can deny I'm American. When I go to China, nobody can deny I'm Chinese because I'm fluent in the language and culture and completely identify as such, she added.