Korean American Spotlight: Chloe Kim
Photo / Yonhap
With the Winter Olympics hosted in Korea this year, we thought it'd be fitting to share the stories of badass, Korean Americans repping the red, white, and blue. For our first feature, we chose none other than 17-year-old female snowboarding sensation, Chloe Kim.
Previously referred to as the “The Future of Women’s Snowboarding,” Kim was ranked high enough to participate in the 2014 Winter Olympics, and was even considered to be a medal contender. However, due to minimum-age requirements, she was too young to participate at the age of 13 years old. Since then, Kim has gone on to dominate the women’s snowboarding scene, becoming a 3-time X Games gold medalist, 2-time Burton U.S. Open halfpipe champion, and 2-time World Snowboard Tour halfpipe season champion.
Hopes in PyeongChang
Ranked #1 in the World Snowboard Tour rankings, Kim secured her spot on Team USA by winning her second straight qualifier in the snowboard halfpipe in Breckenridge, CO on December 15.
Despite this being Kim’s first Winter Olympics, she is considered the gold medal favorite in the Women’s Snowboarding Halfpipe competition and expected to become Team USA’s next big star. If Kim finishes at the podium in PyeongChang, she would become the youngest American to win an Olympic medal in snowboarding - a record currently held by potential teammate, Kelly Clark, who was 18 when she won gold in 2002.
The Product of a Supportive Family
With all this talent, it’s clear that Kim comes from an incredibly caring and supportive family. Kim consistently credits her family for being a strong backbone for her success, especially her parents, Mrs. Boran Kim and Mr. Jong Jin Kim.
Chloe first tried snowboarding at just 4 years old because her dad encouraged her to try it. Starting off by falling and tumbling off lift chairs with her dad (lift chairs are one of the harder things to master as a snowboard beginner), Kim quickly excelled, entering her first snowboarding contest and joining Team Mountain High at 6 years old.
Living in Los Angeles, Mr. Kim would wake up at 2am every weekend to make the six-hour drive to Mammoth, letting Kim sleep in the back seat. When Chloe turned 8, Mr. Kim quit his job to fully support his daughter’s snowboarding career.
In the third and fourth grade, Kim temporarily lived in Switzerland with her aunt, where she learned to speak French (adding a third language to her repertoire, along with English and Korean). Kim’s parents would visit on school breaks and take her snowboarding in France, sometimes leaving as early as 4am and coming back home around 11pm.
History Making Moments
Kim’s breakout moment came at 13 years old when she finished at the podium for several Olympic qualifiers and took home silver at the X Games in Aspen. The following year, Kim took home gold at the 2015 X Games and, at 14 years old, became the youngest gold medalist in the history of the X Games.
Continuing to dominate at the X Games and several other competitions, Kim then did the unthinkable in 2016 by being the first woman to pull off back-to-back 1080s (three full-spins in the air) in a competition at Park City. Kim received a perfect 100 for this run and became only the second snowboarder in history to score a 100 - the first being legendary men’s snowboarder, Shaun White, who did it in the 2012 X Games.
Why We Cheer for Chloe
Aside from being arguably the best women’s snowboarder in the world at just 17 and Korean American (of course), we wanted to spotlight Kim because of her fun-loving, humble, and charismatic personality. Kim adds flare to the sport, as seen through her eccentric snowboarding outfits and experimenting with different hair colors, ranging from purple to red.
Along with her amazing personality, Kim competitiveness and perseverance stand out. While Kim makes her success look easy, she has sacrificed a lot to be where she is, especially for a teenager. Kim’s gone through numerous injuries, from separated shoulder to broken thumb and arm to hyperextended knee. Kim’s also gone through health problems, including one sickness that landed her in the ER for two days. Kim has also sacrificed time with family and friends due to an incredibly hectic schedule requiring constant travel.
Despite these setbacks, Kim pushes on and her competitive drive can be best seen in her performance at the 2015 X Games in Aspen when she won her first X Games gold medal. With less than 10 minutes before the start of the halfpipe final, Kim took a practice run that led to her smashing her face and skidding down the 22-footwall of the halfpipe. Kim got up, brushed off the snow, and pushed herself to ride and eventually win.
Here at KPOP Foods, we’ll be cheering for you, Kim, and we can’t wait to see you dominate in PyeongChang.
KPOP Foods is not an official sponsor of the 2018 Winter Olympics and all information above is accredited to research from a variety of public articles.