Ivy Lu is trilingual and one of the Gophers’ top gymnasts

Lu speaks three languages — Mandarin Chinese, French and English.

Sophomore Ivy Lu performs her bars routine at Maturi Pavilion on Jan. 20.

Jack Rodgers, Daily File Photo

Sophomore Ivy Lu performs her bars routine at Maturi Pavilion on Jan. 20.

Erik Nelson

When sophomore Ivy Lu started competing for Minnesota, she said the most difficult thing for her to do was describe her techniques at practice.

Lu is from Montreal, Canada. She speaks three languages: Mandarin Chinese, French and English. She was not used to training in English before coming to the University. 

“In the gym, all of my terms were in French. All the words that I used in club [gymnastics] were all in French,” Lu said. “That was the biggest adjustment I had to make.”

At home, Lu mostly speaks Mandarin with her parents. She said she sometimes speaks French and English with her family, though.

The dominant language at her school in Montreal was French. She took a few English classes, too. Lu said it’s important for people to have the ability to speak and understand multiple languages.

“It’s beneficial in a lot of ways. I can have different perspectives and use three different languages to express myself,” Lu said. “It’s a great tool to have.” 

Head coach Jenny Hansen said Lu adjusted well to the team.

“Coming here, giving her different corrections, the way things translate may not always be exactly the same,” Hansen said. “It was a little bit of us figuring out what made the best sense to her [and] which corrections clicked the easiest.”

Even though she speaks Mandarin at home, Lu said she never learned to write Mandarin calligraphy. 

“It was a spoken language that I used at home,” Lu said. “That’s the hardest part because I know how to speak it, but I don’t necessarily know how to read or write it.”

Lu has had to learn aspects of English in the United States, but gymnastics came naturally.

Lu was named the Big Ten Event Specialist of the Week for her performance on beam at the GymQuarters Invitational in St. Louis on Feb. 16. She received a perfect 10.000 on beam, becoming only the second gymnast in program history to earn a perfect score on the event.

She is ranked first in the NCAA on bars this season with an average score 9.938. Lu has become one of the top gymnasts on the Gophers, but she had to work on being vocal initially.

Senior Rachel Rowland said Lu was especially shy as a freshman.

“Now we realize that she wasn’t used to being coached in English or having English thrown around the gym,” Rowland said.

Lu has made adjustments to confront the language barrier and feels at home in Minnesota. 

Both Canada and Minnesota are areas where hockey is prominent. They are pretty much the same in many ways, Lu said.

“I ate a lot of Chinese food at home. That was the biggest difference because my parents cooked for me,” Lu said.

Minnesota and its trilingual gymnast compete next at Maturi Pavilion Saturday at 4 p.m. against Arizona State, Minnesota’s final home meet of the regular season.

“It’s fun for our team to know about everybody else, how they grew up and what’s important to them,” Hansen said.