[Newsmaker] Korean-American snowboarding sensation Chloe Kim wins gold

By Claire Lee

17-year-old dominate women’s halfpipe while tweeting she’s ‘hangry’

  • Published : Feb 13, 2018 - 18:20
  • Updated : Feb 14, 2018 - 07:43
PYEONGCHANG, Gangwon Province -- Korean-American snowboarding sensation Chloe Kim claimed her first Olympic gold medal in her parents’ native country on Tuesday, with her extended family watching her compete in PyeongChang.

The 17-year-old landed back-to-back 1080s to score a 98.25 on her final and third lap, even after setting the bar high on her first run with a 93.75 unmatched by any of her rivals.

The young athlete cruised to victory, finishing more than eight points ahead of Jiayu Liu from China, who won silver with an 89.75. Kim’s US colleague Arielle Gold scored an 85.75 to take bronze.

Chloe Kim of the United States celebrates after winning gold in the Ladies` Halfpipe finals at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics at Phoenix Snow Park in Pyeongchang, South Korea. (Yonhap)

“I think we might be looking at the beginning of a very long reign for the queen of halfpipe snowboarding,” BBC Sports commentator Ed Leigh said on Kim’s win.

According to local and foreign news reports, Kim’s competition was “watched by the biggest crowd” so far at Phoenix Snow Park in PyeongChang, including her father and grandmother.

“Okay, don’t cry!” Kim reportedly told her parents after finishing her first run on Tuesday, while having an emotional group hug with her extended family, including her grandmother.

“I hate crying but I’ll give myself a pass for this one,” Kim wrote via her Twitter account after winning the gold, posting a photograph of herself tearing up during the medal ceremony. 

“Thank you everyone for the love! Stoked to bring home the gold.”

Born in 2000 to South Korean immigrants in the US, Kim was raised near Torrance, California. Many of her extended family, including her grandmother, still live in South Korea.

“(My relatives in Korea) have never seen me compete before,” Kim said in an interview with Fox News, prior to arriving in PyeongChang. “I’m excited to have them there.”

Nicknamed the “queen of snow,” Kim had been one of the most anticipated athletes here in South Korea, for her extraordinary talent and her Korean heritage.

“I’m so used to America, used to the traffic in L.A., and I don’t really feel it click with the Korean culture,” the athlete told the Washington Post earlier this month. “But obviously I have a Korean face. … I can’t walk around people like I’m, like, straight-up American. It’s like, I’m Korean-American.”

Prior to PyeongChang, she became the first person under age 16 to win three gold medals at an X Games back in 2016, as well as the first woman ever to land back-to-back 1080 spins at the US Snowboarding Grand Prix in the same year.

Kim’s father, Kim Jong-jin, has been undoubtedly one of the biggest sources of support in her life.

He discovered Kim’s talent in snowboarding when she was 4, and arranged her training in Switzerland when she was 8. During her years in Switzerland, Kim would wake up at 4 a.m. every day for long train rides to the mountain where her training took place.

At PyeongChang, Kim’s father also has been winning many hearts on the Internet, especially after the homemade sign he used to cheer on his daughter went viral online.

He held up a sign that said “Go Chloe!” written in purple marker, while he was watching his daughter compete at qualifications at PyeongChang on Monday.

“You wanna make me cry? Show me this picture of Chloe Kim’s dad right before she hits the half-pipe,” a Twitter user said, posting a photo of Kim holding the very sign.

“Need to find a way to keep myself from thinking about Chloe Kim’s dad so I don’t burst out crying randomly on a subway platform tomorrow,” said Emily Yoshida, a film critic for New York Magazine tweeted.

“Chloe’s medal made everything worth it,” Kim’s father told local reporters on Tuesday. “In Korean legends, a snake must work wait a very long time and be patient to be a dragon. Chloe was born in the year of dragon and she indeed became an amazing dragon today (by winning a gold medal).”

“She is my American dream,” he said.

Since Tuesday morning, Kim’s name has been trending worldwide on Twitter, more than 112,000 users having talked about her.

For many Korean-Americans, Kim’s win was something that was especially touching.

“Somewhere tonight in America a Korean-American girl snapped her violin bow in half, closed her Suzuki book for the last time, and told her parents she wants to shred for the gold,” tweeted Mary Nam, a Korean-American news anchor in Seattle.

“We didn’t have many Korean-American icons to look up to growing up,” tweeted another user who uses a name Bobby Hundreds. “I never imagined she’d finally arrive as a 17-year-old professional snowboarder girl.”

On top of her gold medal, what also triggered a storm of social media posts was Kim’s own tweet, which she posted halfway through her halfpipe competition on Tuesday morning.

Apparently, she was “hangry” -- hungry and angry -- while waiting for her final gold medal run. 

“Wish I finished my breakfast sandwich but my stubborn self decided not to and now I’m getting hangry,” she tweeted.

In spite of being “hangry,” as those watched witnessed on Tuesday morning, Kim nailed the 98.25 in her third run, becoming the youngest-ever gold medalist in the halfpipe event.

Even on Sunday, Kim shared her love for food, while sharing that she is nervous.

“I also had 2 churros today and they were pretty bomb so if you ever get nervous go eat a churro,” she wrote.

“Apparently Chloe Kim is even better when she’s hangry,” wrote Tom Gulitti, a writer for

“She should ride hangry more often,” tweeted CNN.

By Claire Lee (