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On February 13, 17-year-old Chloe Kim made history at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang, when she became the youngest woman to medal in the halfpipe. What made the win even more special for the first-generation Korean American snowboarder was the presence of her 75-year-old grandmother who resides in Seoul and had never seen her compete live.
With Lady Gaga’s “Paparazzi” blasting in her earphones, Chloe easily outpaced the other athletes in her first run at Phoenix Park. Though she fell during her second attempt, her initial score was high enough to assure her the gold, meaning the youngster could have relaxed during the third and final run. But instead, the Southern California native used it to showcase her unparalleled snowboarding abilities and make more history by becoming the first woman to land three back-to-back 1080-degree spins in the Olympics.
While impressive, it was just “another day in the office” for the amazing athlete who earned the title of the first woman to perform the tricky move, which requires making three full revolutions in the air, at the US Snowboarding Grand Prix in 2016 when she was just 15! In addition to wowing viewers worldwide with her snowboarding prowess, Chloe also stole their hearts with this endearing tweet between the runs — “Wish I finished my breakfast sandwich but my stubborn self decided not to and now I'm getting hangry."
Though that may sound oddly calm for someone in the midst of an Olympics event, Chloe is no stranger to the pressures of competition. Since joining the US Snowboarding team in 2013, the young athlete has rapidly made a name for herself as a winter sports wunderkind. In addition to being the first woman under age 16 to win three X-Games gold medals, she was also the first American female snowboarder to bring home gold at the 2016 Winter Youth Olympic Games in Lillehammer, Norway. Chloe even qualified for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, but was unable to compete because she was two years shy of the minimum athlete age requirement of 15.
While Chloe’s success can largely be attributed to her skill and perseverance, her father Jong Jin Kim and mother Boran certainly deserve some credit. The couple, who emigrated from South Korea to greater Los Angeles in 1982, introduced Chloe to snowboarding at age four. Two years later, she won her first junior snowboarding competition. To nurture her natural talent, her dad decided to give up his career, telling Chloe’s mother, “I’m done working, I’m going to make my daughter an Olympian.” He and Boran, who helped keep the household running with her job at Korean Airlines, have since dedicated their lives to making sure Chloe receives the best training possible.
Chloe, who is now a role model for young girls worldwide, is modest about her achievements, saying, “I think I was so fortunate to find my passion and the thing that brought me so much joy at such a young age.” Her advice to her fans? "The one thing I learned is, just give everything a shot. You don’t want to live in regret."
Resources: wikipedia.org, teamusa.org, cnbc.com,snowboardculture.com