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22 Feb 2018 3:57
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  •   Home > News > International

    Chloe Kim is the Winter Olympics golden girl for the Instagram generation

    She's used to hurling herself 4.5m into the air off a halfpipe, but during the Pyeongchang Olympics Chloe Kim has found herself — in a much less controlled manner — catapulted to the giddy heights of international stardom.


    She's used to hurling herself 4.5m into the air off a halfpipe, but during the Pyeongchang Olympics Chloe Kim has found herself — in a much less controlled manner — catapulted to the giddy heights of international stardom.

    The teen from Southern California with an effervescent personality and a prodigious talent has gone pretty rapidly from a rising star in her sport to an instantly recognisable celebrity in the US and South Korea.

    And now with a shiny Olympic gold medal around her neck, her fame will surely only soar higher into the stratosphere.

    If there were any doubts that Kim would be able to produce on the biggest stage, or that the pressure might get to her, she dispelled them with a breathtaking first of three runs in the halfpipe final on Tuesday, which scored her 93.75.

    It was the snowboarding equivalent of a mic drop; signalling to every other woman in the event that they were not in the same league.

    A slip-up in her second run while attempting audacious back-to-back 1080s mattered little as nobody else had come close to her score.

    She found time during the wait for her third run to tweet her regrets about not eating an entire breakfast sandwich earlier. Casual much?

    Her third run was essentially a free hit, and she completely smashed it out of the park, landing her back-to-back 1080s to score an incredible 98.25 and become the youngest ever snowboarding gold medallist.

    Chloe's flashy smile and fun-loving lifestyle have seen her amass more than 200,000 followers on Instagram, and in terms of marketing, she's a 165cm behemoth.

    "You'd be hard-pressed to create a more promising brand spokeswoman in a lab," Sports Business Journal said recently.

    The likes of Nike, Toyota, Visa, Samsung, Oakley and a Korean cosmetics company are already on board the Chloe Kim bandwagon.

    Moxie for days and a burgeoning social media presence would mean little, however, if Kim wasn't ridiculously talented in her field.

    "She's an amazing rider," according to one of her competitors in the halfpipe final, Australian Emily Arthur.

    "Chloe's a legend."

    Snowboard-slanguage hyperbole aside, calling any teenage athlete a legend is quite a call.

    It becomes a little easier to get your head around when you consider that Chloe has spent 13 of her 17 years on this planet with a snowboard strapped to her feet.

    Yep, the first-generation Korean-American first got into the sport when she was four when her dad took her up to the Californian slopes as a way of trying to get her mother to join him there as well.

    She moved to Switzerland for two years from the age of eight, making a return trip to France every day to train.

    Once she was back in the US, her family would drive her five-and-a-half hours from their home in La Palma to the prestigious development program at Mammoth Mountain. Her father quit his job as an engineer as the entire family's focus switched to Olympic hoop dreams.

    The Kim family's Korean relatives, who Chloe visits every year, couldn't quite get their heads around that, or the fact she had dropped out of school to concentrate on snowboarding.

    "I think at first it was a little hard for them to support it," she told the Washington Post, "because, you know, I feel like a Korean's ideal thing is their kid being, like, a lawyer, a doctor."

    Her dazzling talent has been obvious since the early days, though, with Olympic glory seemingly inevitable.

    Kim became the youngest American Winter X Games medallist at the age of 13 and had two gold medals before the age of 16.

    She was the first woman to hit back-to-back 1080s in competition, at the 2016 US Grand Prix.

    Kim is on the record saying she sees herself as American through-and-through, but that hasn't stopped South Koreans singling her out as one of their favourite faces of the Games.

    Her love of spicy Korean food and K-Pop has not gone unnoticed by the South Korean media.

    Going through the checklist of what you'd want from an athlete in terms of marketability, Kim ticks pretty much every box you can think of, and a few more.

    Phenomenally talented, multi-lingual (English, French, Korean), Insta-famous, Kardashian-esque combination of names, young, bubbly and clean-cut, don't be surprised if you see Chloe Kim on a billboard near you soon.

    And did I mention she has a cute dog?

    © 2018 ABC Australian Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved


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