Chloe Kim: California kid heads to South Korea’s games

Chloe Kim: California kid heads to South Korea's games

ASPEN, Colo. – Ask snowboarder Chloe Kim what she thinks the “Chloe Kim Story” actually is that this yr and he or she hesitates only a second, earlier than deciding on “The California woman that went to the Olympics.”

It is excellent, straightforward, and oh-so-fitting for the 17-year-old from Torrance, California, who loves music and the mall nearly as a lot as she loves stomping her runs – and the competitors – within the halfpipe.

However Kim, whether or not it is truthful or not, has come to characterize greater than that for these Olympics.

Her mother and father are from South Korea, the place the video games will probably be held beginning Feb. 9. Among the many handful of family members who stay there may be Chloe’s grandma, who has been recognized to brag about her high-flying granddaughter if, say, she’s out to tea along with her buddies and an image of Chloe occurs to seem within the newspaper, which occurs pretty typically.

“They’ve by no means seen me compete earlier than,” Chloe says. “I am excited to have them there.”

Although it is tempting to show Kim’s story into a much bigger narrative a couple of lifelong want to win a gold medal in her household’s nation, that narrative will not be the best one.

She admits to not having all that rather more familiarity with South Korea than the typical 17-year-old American child, and the actual fact is, greater than any grand plan, it was the quirks of the calendar, the Worldwide Olympic Committee and 100 different issues that may place her in Pyeongchang for her Olympic debut.

Kim was so good at age 13, she might need received the Sochi Olympics had she been sufficiently old . However with the Olympics not permitting anybody in underneath 15, she didn’t make the lower. And although her father sacrificed a lot time, effort and sleep to additional Chloe’s profession, the considered doing it so his daughter may make her first Olympic splash in his native nation was by no means a part of the equation.

“After we began, Korea was not declared as internet hosting the Olympics,” Jong Jin Kim says. “I assumed I had an opportunity to convey her to the Olympics, so it was superb and really fortunate that they matched collectively.”

Jong Jin Kim moved to the USA in 1982 to pursue his engineering diploma. He met his spouse, Boran, in Switzerland. Chloe, the youngest of three sisters, was born in 2000, and when she turned four, Jong Jin purchased her a snowboard on eBay and dragged her onto the mountain, partly as a result of he wished his spouse to come back alongside, too. Chloe took classes, and by the point she was 7, she was successful contests. By the point she was eight, she was dwelling in Switzerland along with her aunt, and was usually waking up at four a.m. for lengthy practice rides to the mountain.

“Loopy. Fairly a mission,” Chloe remembers.

At age 10, Chloe was again in California, and her of us had been rearranging each her and their lives with the thought she would possibly change into knowledgeable snowboarder. House-schooling and a couple of a.m. wake-up calls grew to become routine. In 2014, a month earlier than the Olympics she couldn’t attend, she took her first Winter X Video games medal – a silver. She received her first Winter X Video games the subsequent yr, and after her victory in Saturday night time’s halfpipe contest, she now has three underneath her belt.

What separates her from the pack on the halfpipe is her means to do back-to-back 1080-degree jumps. She first pulled that off at a contest in 2016. Although there are different riders who can problem her – People Arielle Gold and Maddie Mastro pushed Kim exhausting in Saturday night time’s X Video games and 34-year-old Kelly Clark stays on high of her recreation – Kim has the methods and the model to win the Olympics if she executes.

Since they met in a elevate line 10 years in the past, Clark has been impressed with Kim, partly as a result of she has been a firsthand witness to ‘s work ethic.

“She rides longer than anybody, takes extra runs than anybody. For me, that is been a core worth to my snowboarding,” Clark says. “Expertise can get you solely up to now. It is about placing in that onerous work and further effort that makes a distinction.”

If Kim wins the gold in Pyeongchang, she would money in on all of the hopes that sponsors (Toyota, Monster and Goal among the many many), her followers (157,000 Instagram followers and counting) and NBC (she’s a outstanding determine in its pre-Video games hype machine) have positioned in her.

For all that hope and hype, although, she is hardly dominating the protection in South Korea, which boasts a former determine skating champion in Yuna Kim who, although retired, was key in bringing the video games to Pyeongchang and should be the nation’s most recognizable Olympic star.

The ladies’s hockey crew, particularly now that it has mixed with gamers from North Korea, together with quick observe speedskaters, are also a part of the pre-games story line within the host nation.

“Snowboarding simply does not have the identical publicity there, and he or she does not have the identical accomplishments but as somebody like Yuna Kim,” says Jean Lee, a world fellow on the Wilson Heart, who beforehand served as Related Press bureau chief in Pyongyang, North Korea. “However she has the potential. If she goes dwelling with a medal, and I believe she most likely will, she’ll change into an enormous star in South Korea.”

For now, although, Kim is content material being a star on no matter halfpipe she’s dropping into in the mean time, whether or not it’s in Colorado, California or South Korea.

She dotes on her Australian shepherd , Reese, enjoys heading to the seaside and, in fact, she lives for the mall.

Her favourite day was once the primary of any month, when her mother would give her that month’s $100 allowance.

Whereas she’s effectively conscious that the upcoming Olympics are extra than simply one other contest, she might not totally grasp how massive they may change into for her. And possibly that is the takeaway message in all this. Chloe Kim is 17, having enjoyable , making an attempt to stay a traditional, California child’s life in a not-so-normal world through which she flies larger than anybody else.

“I am very grateful my mother and father ensure that I’ve a traditional lifetime of some kind,” she says. “It is nonetheless so loopy to consider the truth that I will be 15 ft within the air one minute, and the subsequent minute, I am in my pajamas, watching a film.”


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