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Adam Minter

Eileen Gu and China's Uphill Hunt for Global Talent

An Olympic skier whose mother is Chinese is a relatively easy fit. But to attract superstars in all fields, Beijing has to widen its qualifications for citizenship.

Team China’s star skier. 

Team China’s star skier. 

Photographer: Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Eileen Gu, the Olympic freestyle skier, speaks her English quickly, like the native-born San Franciscan she is. In Chinese, she's just as quick, but with the hard vowels of a distinctive Beijing accent.

As she's noted in interviews, there are equal sides to her, the legacy of a Chinese mother and American father, and an upbringing spent on both sides of the Pacific. Three years ago, she opted to become a naturalized Chinese citizen and compete for China at the Beijing 2022 Olympics, even as she continues to reside in California.