Ailing (Eileen) Gu's coach on her Beijing 2022 success: "She's a work animal"

Misra Noto Torniainen shares how the Chinese freesyle ski star wants to train "every single day", and can deliver under pressure, after Gu claimed a second gold and record third medal at these Winter Olympic Games.

By James Pratt and Ash Tulloch in Zhangjiakou
Picture by 1 Getty Images

What's the secret to Ailing (Eileen) Gu's success? Hard work, passion for freestyle skiing, and an ability to handle pressure.

That's according to the coach who helped guide the Chinese star to a record medal haul at Beijing 2022.

"She's a work animal," Misra Noto Torniainen told Olympics.com on Friday (18 February) after Gu's third medal of the Games. "She works every single day, like so much."

"We go outside skiing, even on bad days. We always try to achieve something, work on something, try to make the best out of the day, and she really goes up on the mountain every day, wants to show her best, to deliver, and learn, learn, learn."

And at her home Olympics, Gu certainly delivered, claiming gold in the freeski halfpipe at Genting Snow Park to add to her slopestyle silver from Zhangjiakou and big air gold won in Beijing earlier in these Winter Games.

"It's unbelievable. We knew we were at a good spot coming into the Olympics," coach Misra added.

"The pressure was high. [In] big air and slope the field is wide open. And I mean, she just delivered, showing her best in each competition. And it's just amazing at the biggest sports stage in the world."

Gu's biggest strength: delivering under pressure

It takes more than just a great work ethic to make an Olympic champion.

"She can deal with pressure really well. Her biggest strength is delivering under pressure," her coach said without hesitation.

"My part on that was just keep everything like as normal as possible. I remind her how good she is and just remind her that she only has to show her best. Not more, and then everything falls into place.

"She showed that perfectly in big air. Third round, finals, Olympics, showing a new trick she has never done and just bringing it down."

Gu herself shared with Olympics.com, "I put more pressure on myself than anybody else can put on me.

"I remember that I'm the one who did the work, and I'm the one who loves the sport, so I'm skiing for myself."

No freestyle skier had ever won three medals in three different events at an Olympic Winter Games previously. The 18-year-old's grandmother was in the crowd at the Secret Garden halfpipe, watching her granddaughter compete for the first time.

But her coach did say there's one thing that Gu still needs to work on:

"She's a little impatient, for sure," he says with a smile.

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