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Finding Her Way


After returning home from the 2018 Winter Olympics, in South Korea, Chloe Kim put her gold medal in the trash. (It didn’t stay there long.) Kim was struggling with being a new celebrity. Her gravity-defying twists had made her the youngest female Olympic gold medalist in snowboarding history. She was 17.

Kim was also feeling depressed, which is common for Olympic athletes. They spend their lives training for events that come only every four years. Kim says the depression hit her shortly after the 2018 Games. 
She went to a cafe near her home, in Southern California, to grab a sandwich: she was wearing pajamas and her hair was a mess. When she walked in, everyone stared, so she ran out. “I just wanted a day where I was left alone,” Kim says. “I appreciate that everyone loves and supports me, but I just wish people could understand what I was going through.”

VICTORY SMILE Kim flies a U.S. flag after winning gold at the 2018 Olympics, in South Korea.


In December 2021, Kim spoke with TIME. She was preparing for the Winter Olympics in Beijing, China. They would begin on February 4. Kim looked back on how she had changed since the previous Winter Games. She said, “I would tell my younger self that even though things get hard . . . it’ll get better.”

On a Journey

Kim was born in Long Beach, California, in 2000. Her parents had moved to the United States from South Korea. When she was 4, her father took her snowboarding. She loved it. As she improved, her dad would wake her up at 1 a.m. on Saturdays for the five-hour drive to practice in the mountains.

YOUNG CHLOE At age 6, Kim practices her snowboarding skills in California.


The long trips paid off. At 13, Kim qualified for the 2014 Olympics but was too young to participate. Four years later, she made up for lost time (see “Defying Gravity”). “She’s pushing the boundaries of what’s possible for women’s snowboarding,” says Arielle Gold, a U.S. snowboarder who won bronze in 2018. “She is the greatest women’s snowboarder of all time, by far.”

RISING STAR At 13, Kim celebrates after snagging silver at the 2014 Winter X Games.


After the 2018 Olympics, Kim started to lose her love of the sport. “I was so burnt-out, I just couldn’t do it anymore,” she says. It was time for something new. Kim took a break from snowboarding and enrolled at Princeton University, in New Jersey, in 2019.

In March 2020, Kim chose to return to competition. She had been working with a therapist to understand and express her feelings. “Just being able to let those things out that you just tuck in your little secret part of your heart helps a lot,” she says.

PROUD FAMILY Kim (right) poses with her mom, Boran Yun, at the 2012 Burton U.S. Open.


At the Olympics

As the 2022 Beijing Games got closer, Kim’s focus sharpened. In December, she told TIME she was planning to show off three new tricks. “I’m so excited,” she said. “They’re an upgrade from everything I’ve done.”

SKY HIGH Kim soars on the halfpipe at the Winter Olympics, in China, on February 10.


On February 10, Kim won gold in the women’s halfpipe. Now 21, Kim is the first female snowboarder to win back-to-back gold medals in the halfpipe competition. Her performance wasn’t perfect. She fell while trying to land a difficult trick on two of three runs. But her incredible first run was enough to earn her the top spot. Later, Kim proudly accepted the gold medal.

Defying Gravity

At the 2018 Winter Games, in South Korea, Chloe Kim became the first woman to land back-to-back 1080s at an Olympics. 
A 1080 involves three full rotations in the air.

UPSIDE DOWN Chloe Kim shows her stuff on February 13, 2018.


Later that year, while training in Switzerland, Kim accomplished another feat feat EVREN DEMIRKUTLU—EYEEM/GETTY IMAGES an achievement that takes courage, strength, or skill (noun) Rescuing the cat from the tree had been quite a feat. . She became the first woman to land a front-side double cork 1080 in a halfpipe. Basically, this means that she flipped herself upside down twice during an aerial aerial RICHARD NEWSTEAD—GETTY IMAGES taking place in the air (adjective) The drone took aerial photographs. rotation.

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