Chloe Kim’s Road to Olympic Gold: Early Mornings, KFC, Bridging Cultures and Having a Blast

Chloe Kim, Gold Medal, 2018 Winter Olympics

Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Photos

You recognize Southern California. We love our solar, our sandy seashores, our shorts and our extreme-sport winter athletes.

It simply so occurs that SoCal birthed two of the most important stars on the Winter Olympics proper now: Snowboarders Shaun White, whom everybody has identified for nearly 20 years, and Chloe Kim, whom everyone seems to be attending to know proper now.

The 17-year-old made historical past yesterday in Pyeongchang together with her gold medal displaying within the ladies’s halfpipe occasion (White’s probability to win his third halfpipe gold comes later at the moment), turning into the primary lady snowboarder to land back-to-back 1080s (a soar involving three full rotations, or 360s—get it?) at these Video games and the youngest ever feminine medalist in a snow occasion.

She was grappling for the correct Instagram caption final evening and she or he nonetheless was trying to find simply the proper phrases at the moment—however we are able to think about that the victory she’s labored so exhausting for tasted even sweeter than the churros she snacked on this week to calm her nerves and the ice cream she was craving, and maybe was much more satisfying than the piece of breakfast sandwich she left behind earlier than her successful efficiency.

“It actually hasn’t sunk in but,” a gleeful Kim informed Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb on At this time Tuesday earlier than digging right into a platter of churros, cookies & cream ice cream and a breakfast sandwich ready specifically for her.

After a 93.75 on her first run gave her a cushty lead, she might’ve performed it protected. As a substitute, she put the icing on her first Olympic gold medal cake with a virtually excellent rating of 98.25 on run No. three after executing that pair of 1080s. “That third run was only for me,” she informed reporters afterward. “To point out myself that I might do it.”

Liu Jiayu of China earned silver and Kim’s teammate Arielle Gold took the bronze.

Kim recalled the overwhelming emotion on At this time. “I used to be like, ‘I can not cry proper now. I can not do that. I labored so exhausting on my eyeliner!'” Kim laughed. However general, “It is such an honor to only symbolize the U.S. and the nation the place my dad and mom immigrated from. This complete course of has been wonderful, and this journey has been so enjoyable and filled with so many reminiscences that I’ll maintain onto for the remainder of my life.”

Dad Jong Jin Kim and mother Boran could not consider it, both—although that they had definitely envisioned such a second for his or her solely daughter. You recognize that outdated adage that inside hours in California you could be on the seaside and within the mountains? True story.

Jong, who alongside together with his spouse immigrated to California (after assembly in Switzerland) and settled within the Orange County metropolis of La Palma, took Four-year-old Chloe snowboarding at Mountain Excessive, a ski resort situated about an hour and a half from L.A. Kim loves telling the story about her dad utilizing her, a wee toddler, as “bait,” as a result of he figured his spouse would really feel too responsible to not come alongside for the journey.

Although no professional himself, Jong inspired his daughter’s early skill. She gained her first junior competitors when she was 6.

Chloe Kim, 2018 Winter Olympics

Cameron Spencer/Getty Photos

Kim spent a number of of her childhood residing with an aunt in Switzerland to be nearer to the mountains—the Alps—after which enrolled in a coaching program at Mammoth Mountain, in jap California alongside the Sierra Nevadas, upon her return to the States.

Jong finally give up his job as an engineer to commit himself full time to Chloe’s coaching. He was hardly the primary mother or father who determined to make that transfer (simply to call one, snowboarding powerhouse Mikaela Shiffrin‘s mom is her coach and fixed touring companion), however solely a relative handful of athletes make it to the highest of that proverbial mountain.

“My household has sacrificed a lot for me and attain this dream of mine,” Kim informed NBC Sports activities after her first Olympic win. “Having the ability to do this of their dwelling nation is wonderful.”

She had beforehand informed the Washington Publish, “Clearly, after I was eight, I had no concept what [her dad] was doing. It was like, ‘Why is Dad dwelling extra,’ you understand? However now that I give it some thought, you understand, I really feel prefer it was a very daring transfer, and I can not consider my mother was OK with it.”

At 13 years outdated she was too younger to compete within the 2014 Sochi Olympics, however the Winter X Video games had been glad to have her and she or he earned a silver within the superpipe occasion. In 2015, Kim got here again and gained gold. Similar in 2016. She turned in an uncharacteristic bronze medal efficiency on the 2017 Winter X Video games, however she was again on prime in 2018 heading into the Olympics.

Kim was the one athlete, male or feminine, to have three X Video games gold medals earlier than the age of 16. On the U.S. Grand Prix in 2016 she turned the primary lady snowboarder to land these back-to-back 1080s in competitors and first to attain an ideal 100.

Veteran snowboarder Kelly Clark, who completed simply off the halfpipe podium in Pyeongchang yesterday, beat Kim on the teen’s inaugural X Video games, however was impressed by the child’s talent even then. 

“These ladies are the way forward for snowboarding,” Clark informed the LA Occasions yesterday, referring to Kim and Gold. “They’re simply getting began.”

Petitely constructed at 5’2 and rocking golden highlights (now, anyway—her hair has been many shades over time), Kim, who has two sisters, additionally likes common teenage issues—like pop music, her canine, Reese, and social media—when she’s not coaching. Which she’s normally doing, on a regular basis. When she was youthful (or at the very least earlier than she had her personal license) she’d sleep within the automotive whereas her dad made the 5 1/2-hour drive to Mammoth each weekend. When she was of junior-high age her dad and mom began homeschooling her.

No matter pure skill she has has been supplemented by the standard insane work ethic you have a tendency to seek out amongst elite athletes, whether or not they’re pushed by their very own inside hearth, urged alongside by their households and coaches or a mixture of the 2.

However apart from the hazard of Kim melting the snow together with her radiant smile, seemingly infinite vitality and massive, heat coronary heart, this child was born for the general public stage. Or was she?

Chloe Kim, Gold Medal, 2018 Winter Olympics

Chris Graythen/Getty Photos

“Snowboarding introduced me out of my shell,” Kim informed reporters final month whereas making ready for her first Olympics. “You recognize, when you meet somebody for the primary time, they are not going to chunk you.” (Within the profile, earlier than she turned extra broadly identified for her frequent shout-outs to meals, she name-checked KFC and Chipotle.)

She recalled being so freaked out by the photographers angling for photos whereas she was assembly with a gaggle of schoolkids throughout a goodwill journey to South Korea that she nearly ran away. However then she calmed down and, “like Kim Kardashian,” made certain they snapped her from her good aspect.

Whereas she’s obtained 1080s and McTwists and cab 720 melons down (significantly, what is this terminology), balancing on the at-times treacherous path that zigzags by normalcy and stardom (and, to not point out, wealth) may very well be trickier.

Toyota signed her up when she was barely 16, she was featured in one of many Winter Olympics Tremendous Bowl commercials, she’s one of the distinguished Nike-sponsored athletes in Pyeongchang and—watch the eyeliner, certainly—she’s the first-ever North American ambassador for Korean magnificence line Laneige as effectively. Add to that Samsung, Oakley and Visa and you have got many greenback indicators.

Plus, as a Korean-American athlete, she desires to symbolize each her dad and mom’ tradition and her personal to one of the best of her skill. And although she digs Okay-pop and Korean delicacies and speaks English, Korean and French (thank you, childhood within the Alps), that hasn’t completely come simply for her, having grown up predominantly as a So-Cal child.

“I am so used to America, used to the visitors in L.A., and I do not actually really feel it click on with the Korean tradition,” she informed the Washington Publish lately (including In-N-Out to the meals shout-out tally). “However clearly I’ve a Korean face, and I really feel like that is simply—you understand, I can not stroll round folks like I am like straight-up American. It is like, I am Korean-American. My dad and mom are from Korea.

“I do not know. It is bizarre. I simply grew up within the States, so I really feel like I establish extra with the American tradition.”

That being stated, she has already reached idol standing in dad and mom’ native nation, the place she nonetheless has plenty of household, so add position mannequin to the checklist of descriptors she’s inherited.

“I am, like, ending up highschool,” she informed the Publish. “I do not know how one can study something from me as a result of I am nonetheless like a teen. I do not know what I am doing with my life.”

And whereas it was her father who steered her into snowboarding, “I feel at first it was somewhat exhausting for [the family back in Korea] to assist it as a result of, you understand, I really feel like a Korean’s superb factor is their child being like a lawyer, a physician.”

A history-making Olympic gold medalist two months shy of her 18th birthday will simply should do.

Tune in to NBC to look at the Winter Olympics.

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