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China’s Zhu Yi crashes while competing at the Capital Indoor Stadium during the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games. Photo: David Mcintyre/ZUMA Press Wire/dpa

‘Shame on Zhu Yi’: Chinese fans turn on US-born figure skater after fall at Winter Olympics before Weibo hashtag is seemingly censored

  • The 19-year-old admits ‘I’m upset and embarrassed’ as she wipes away tears after Beijing 2022 stumble
  • Hashtag criticising Californian trends on Weibo, with fans calling out her family ties and lack of Chinese-speaking skills

US-born figure skater Zhu Yi has come under fire from Chinese fans on social media after a fall on her Winter Olympics debut for Team China.

The 19-year-old Californian fell flat on the ice during her routine on Sunday, finishing last in the Beijing 2022 women’s short programme team event.

The hashtag “Zhu Yi has fallen” quickly became a top trending topic on China’s Twitter-like Weibo platform, gaining 200 million views in just a few hours, before it was later seemingly censored.

Zhu’s selection for the Games had already been a controversial topic, after she was picked at the expense of a China-born athlete.

China’s Zhu Yi competes in the women’s singles figure skating short programme. Photo: dpa

Born in Los Angeles to a Chinese immigrant family, she reportedly came close to opting to represent the US, but gave up her American citizenship to represent China in 2018, and changed her name from Beverly Zhu.

“Shame on Zhu Yi,” one netizen wrote on Weibo after her routine on Sunday.

Zhu Yi falls again, cries during routine as online criticism intensifies

“Zhu Yi, how ridiculous your performance is!” another user said. “How dare you skate for China? You cannot even hold a candle to an amateur!”

Another comment, with 11,000 upvotes, said “this is such a disgrace”.

Zhu was cheered by the Chinese crowd at Beijing’s Capital Indoor Stadium, on what was the second day of competition for the figure skating team event.

Zhu Yi of China falls down. Photo: Xinhua

But she crashed into the wall after messing up a jump in her opening combination, and then failed another jump to finish with the lowest score – which knocked China down from third to fifth in the team standings.

“I’m upset and a little embarrassed,” Zhu said after her performance, as she wiped away tears.

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“I guess I felt a lot of pressure because I know everybody in China was pretty surprised with the selection for ladies’ singles and I just really wanted to show them what I was able to do but unfortunately I didn’t.”

Zhu Yi of China performs at Beijing 2022. Photo: Xinhua

Zhu cannot speak fluent Chinese, something which has also drawn criticism on Weibo.

“Please let her learn Chinese first, before she talks about patriotism,” one Weibo user said.

Other fans also insisted her selection was down to her family ties. Her father Zhu Songchun is an award-winning artificial intelligence scientist, who joined Peking University in 2020 from the University of California, Los Angeles.

“I just felt very sad that I couldn’t do better and help [China] during this team event but I’m very grateful to have them, and have them cheering for me,” Zhu added.

Eileen Gu of Team China poses for a picture after placing first in the women’s freeski halfpipe competition at the Toyota US Grand Prix, at Mammoth Mountain in California. Photo: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images North America/AFP

Zhu’s treatment by Chinese fans is in stark contrast to that of Eileen Gu, another US-born athlete represent China at these Games.

The 18-year-old freestyle skier Gu has fluent Mandarin and spent summer holidays in Beijing as a child.

Gu has 1.9 million followers on Weibo, and has become the face of these Olympics for China, with her debut in Monday’s freeski big air qualifications highly-anticipated on Chinese social media.