“I’d love to be Chloe, the girl who sits next to me in English class,” said the 18-year-old from California , who recently won a halfpipe title at the Winter X Games and heads into the world championships that start this week in Utah as a big favorite. “My life has always been so different. I’d love to live a normal life for once.”
That could be tricky. She’s become that recognizable.
Kim was the face of the Pyeongchang Games last February with her energetic personality, compelling back story — her parents are from South Korea — and the talent to bring it all home.
At 17, she became the youngest woman to win the Olympic halfpipe gold. She did so in captivating fashion, too, turning in a memorable final run even with the gold already secured. With a quick “This one’s for you grams” — a shout-out to her South Korean grandmother, who was watching her in person for the first time — Kim dropped into the halfpipe that day and landed back-to-back 1080-degree spins on her second and third jumps. That’s a combination no other woman has done in a competition.
Along her gold-medal journey, she emerged as a social media star with tweets about her fondness for churros and ice cream, and being “hangry.”
Since then, some fans — some companies, too — have been sending churros and ice cream to her door.
Memo to everyone: Please, no more. Her sweet tooth’s reached overload.
“I can’t even remember the last time I had ice cream,” Kim said. “I’d just eat them all and then I’d be pretty bummed the next day, because it’s a lot. Ice cream and churros are a dangerous combination.”
Her schedule after the Pyeongchang Games has been full of one cool experience after another. She helped design a snowboarding Barbie doll in her likeness, rapped with hip-hop artist G-Eazy and walked the red carpet at the ESPY awards (winning for best female athlete, best female U.S. Olympic athlete and best female action sports athlete).
Kim also met actress Sarah Jessica Parker and appeared on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon ,” where she caught her first glimpse of her image on a Corn Flakes box .
“I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, that’s actually pretty sick. I’m on a cereal box!'” recounted Kim, who also appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated with her Australian shepherd, Reese . “I didn’t realize how cool all this was until it actually happened to me.
“Life has been pretty good.”
Kim even received her very own engraved spoon from the makers of Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal. No need to send extra boxes, though. She has plenty.
“Fruits and vegetable can go out the door,” Kim cracked. “My diet is Cinnamon Toast Crunch.”
But this completely bowled her over: Being accepted to Princeton, an honor she ranks right up there with earning that Olympic gold medal. She was slated to attend last fall, but decided to defer enrollment a year.
Her major at Princeton will be something science-based — possibly chemistry or maybe biology. She’s still deciding.
“It’s really crazy because Princeton was my dream school before snowboarding took off,” Kim said. “I just liked the name when I was really young and didn’t know about college or anything. My parents were like, ‘OK, whatever.’ When it really happened it’s like, ‘Oh … OK.’ It’s just really exciting.”
Her snowboard won’t be abandoned. She’s computing the math and working out a formula to juggle her training with her class schedule.
For now, she’s just enjoying the chance to compete without the anxiety of the Olympics hanging over her. She’s riding purely for enjoyment, which was evident as she captured her fifth Winter X title in Aspen, Colorado, last weekend. She’s a good bet to take home the world championships halfpipe crown with finals on Feb. 8 at Park City Mountain.
Recently, Kim joined up with “Protect our Winters ,” a nonprofit group that turns passionate outdoor enthusiasts into climate advocates. It was a natural fit.
“Snowboarding is a big part of my life,” Kim said. “It would be a bummer if we didn’t get to do that anymore.”
Next on her agenda: Taking her game to loftier heights. She’s currently honing the double cork front-side 1080 , which she landed during training in Saas-Fee, Switzerland , in October.
“It’s all about progressing the sport and also pushing myself,” Kim said. “To see what I can do, and how far I can go.”
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