- Chloe Kim won a gold medal in the women’s halfpipe final at the Winter Olympics on Tuesday.
- Kim was the heavy gold-medal favourite and has been one of the most dominant snowboarders in the world for years, despite only being 17.
- Olympic snowboarder Kelly Clark said she remembers Kim as a little girl asking to ride the chairlift with her at snowboard club and then wowing with her work ethic.
On Tuesday in Pyeongchang, Chloe Kim had the big Winter Olympics moment everyone was waiting for.
Kim dominated the women’s halfpipe final en route to a gold medal. She technically won after her first-run score, but went on a third run anyway, with the gold already sealed, and landed back-to-back 1080s.
Kim entered the games as the heavy gold-medal favourite after years of dominating at lower levels. She was good enough to qualify for the Sochi Olympics in 2014, but was too young to go.
Even before that, she had impressed some of the best snowboarders in the world with her skill and work ethic. In a profile of Kim from ESPN’s Alyssa Roenigk, Olympic snowboarder Kelly Clark told a great anecdote about how impressive Kim was at a young age.
Kim spent two years living in Switzerland, returning to the U.S. when she was about 10 years old. She joined the Mammoth Mountain snowboard team where she encountered Clark, a 2002 gold-medal winner who is 17 years Kim’s elder.
“I was in the lift line at Mammoth, and this little girl in a blue helmet with a pink face mask asked to ride the chair with me,” Clark told Roenigk. “Then I started seeing her at the halfpipe. The sheer amount of days I would see her out there, regardless of weather, spoke volumes.”
According to Roenigk, Kim started snowboarding when she was four and took to the sport with ease, going off jumps and hitting rails by the time she was five. When it became clear she was a special talent, her father drove her five hours each way to Mammoth Mountain, beginning at 2am.
The women’s halfpipe final on Tuesday was like a culmination of it all – a clearly special talent accomplishing the inevitable. But at 17, Kim may only just be getting started.
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