Snowboarder Chloe Kim just made history!
Kim is now the first woman to win two Olympic snowboard gold medals in the Olympic halfpipe event.
Kim, only 21 years old, was the only American to compete in Thursday’s final. She won the event in her first round with a seemingly unbeatable score of 94 points. Five-time Olympian from Spain, Queralt Castellet took home her first medal ever: silver. Sena Tomita of Japan took home the bronze.
Chloe Kim Recalls ‘The Worst Practice Of My Life’
Although she pushed herself to her limits in the finals, Kim couldn’t help but recall that she had “the worst practice of my life” before she competed. She fell in her first run in the qualifiers – just like American snowboarder Shaun White – and added that she was nervous before her final run.
However, Kim pulled out all the stops on the pipe. She landed tricks like a switch 900 and a backside 540 before performing 1080s to display her technical skill.
As she slid to a stop, she was seen both laughing and crying. As the scoreboard lit up with her score of 94, Kim got up and began hugging everyone she knew around the media area, including US coach Ricky Bauer. “I just started bawling,” Kim said. “I gotta get these tears out.”
“I was dealing with all sorts of emotions [before the contest], but I reminded myself I just have to land one run, and I was so happy to do that,” she added.
In her second run, she tried for a 1260 on her third hit. It’s a trick that no woman has ever pulled off in a halfpipe competition. Although she slid out on the landing, she was eager to try it again on her third run; unfortunately, she was able to land it. However, she still got plenty of applause for her attempt.
“[Progression] is so important and after I put down the first run, I got two attempts at landing the cab 1260. I’m super proud of myself for going out and trying to do it,” Kim said. “I’m looking forward to being able to land it at the next one.”
Now that she has won the gold for the second time in a row, she just wants to go home and hug her dog!
“Now I’m so eager to see my family, my boyfriend, my dog,” she said. “Then I will feel all the feelings and be proud of myself.”
Chloe Kim Talked Mental Health Pressures Before Competing
Chloe Kim, the daughter of two South Korean immigrants, was too young to compete in the 2014 Sochi Olympics although her scores made her eligible for competition. At only 17 years old, she made her big debut at the 2018 Olympic Games and took home the gold in her first competition. She is the youngest woman to win an Olympic snowboard gold medal since the sport was introduced in 1998.
When she was competing, she said she felt the need to be “always on, always excited” until it got to the point where “my cheeks were hurting so bad from faking smiling,” she recalled.
When she got home, she was flooded by fans even when she was trying to visit her favorite bakery. “It makes you angry,” she said in a 2018 interview with TIME. “I just wanted a day where I was left alone. And it’s impossible.”
“I appreciate that everyone loves and supports me, but I just wish people could understand what I was going through up to that point,” she continued. “Everyone was like, ‘I just met her, and she’s such a b—-.’ I’m not a b—-. I just had the most exhausting two months of my life, and the minute I get home I’m getting hassled.”
Kim took a break from snowboarding and entered Princeton University. Although she was again mobbed by fans during the first week of classes, her novelty soon wore off and she was able to hit the reset button on her life. However, when the campus went into lockdown in March 2020 during the COVID-19 lockdown, Kim began seeing a therapist.
“Just being able to let those things out that you just tuck in your little secret part of your heart helps a lot,” Kim said. “I feel much more at peace now.”
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