Chloe Kim is in for a wild ride this Winter Olympics. At age 17, Kim is a favorite for gold in snowboarding, where she literally takes a wild ride down the halfpipe, doing tricks that are absolutely jaw-dropping.
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Kim, who started snowboarding at 4, could’ve been — should’ve been! — at the Winter Olympics in 2014 in Sochi, Russia. The only thing standing in her way then was her age.
She was unbothered by the age requirement, though, telling the The New York Times at the time, “I think I would be really nervous… I’m glad that I’m not old enough, almost.”
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Four years on, her nerves have all but disappeared. “I don’t get butterflies,” she recently told ESPN. “I get a good feeling in my stomach before I compete. When I don’t, I get worried.”
If Kim medals this month in South Korea, the fearless athlete will add another impressive accomplishment to her list: the youngest snowboarder to stand on the podium. (For a little perspective, Shaun White, who celebrated qualifying for Team USA with Kim, is 31 years old.)
For the Korean-American and her family, getting the chance to make her Olympic debut in South Korea is extra special — especially for her father. Growing up, Kim had the ultimate support from her dad, who drove her back and forth to Mammoth, her “home mountain” in Southern California, which was hours away from where the family lived. Kim’s dad started the weekly drive at 2 a.m. on Friday mornings!
According to ESPN, he believed it was ~meant to be~ when he found out his daughter’s first Olympics would be in South Korea.
And the bubbly, outgoing teen who loves Riverdale, In-N-Out, and shopping at Forever21 has already become a sensation there, experiencing fame when she visited last February for a goodwill visit.
“It was actually really crazy; I had, like, a paparazzi moment there,” she told the Washington Post. “I felt like Kim Kardashian… I look up, and there’s like 25 cameras around.”
But after the Winter Olympics, her focus won’t be on fame — it’ll be squarely on getting into college.
Indeed, Kim admitted to the Los Angeles Times that her SAT scores were “average.”
“If someone’s kid got that score, their [parents] are probably like, ‘Oh, you’re taking it again.’ But my parents were so happy,” she explained. Her scores can’t be that bad though, since Vogue noted in a recent profile that Kim was strongly considering Princeton and Harvard.
“I wanna go to college. I wanna graduate college,” Kim, who wants to become a veterinarian or sports agent, told NBC News. “Snowboarding is a huge part of my life, but I also feel like it’s important to have a plan B or a back-up plan for after my career because I can’t snowboard for my whole life competitively.”
But first, she needs to graduate from high school. “If I do really well at the Olympics I might not have time,” she told Sports Illustrated. “I’m okay with that.”
To learn more about Aja Evans, visit teamusa.org. The Winter Olympics begin on February 8th.