Who is Chloe Kim?
Name: Chloe Kim
Country: United States
2016/17 World Snowboard Tour ranking: 1st
- 3-time X Games halfpipe gold medalist
- 2-time Burton U.S. Open halfpipe champion (2016, 2017)
- 2016 Winter Youth Olympic Games halfpipe and slopestyle gold medalist
- 2-time World Snowboard Tour halfpipe season champion
Kim has not yet competed at a Winter Olympics. Due to minimum-age requirements set by the organizers, she was too young for the 2014 Games even though she would have mathematically qualified for the U.S. Olympic halfpipe team. Had she been allowed to participate, she would have been considered a medal contender even though she was just 13 years old at the time.
In the years since Sochi, Kim has taken over as the dominant rider in women's halfpipe. She is considered the gold-medal favorite for PyeongChang and is young enough that she could again retain that status at future Olympics in 2022 and beyond.
If she finishes on the podium in PyeongChang, Kim would potentially become the youngest American to win an Olympic medal in snowboarding. The record is currently held by Kelly Clark, who was 18 when she took gold in 2002.
With amplitude, style, progression and consistency all evident in her runs, Kim is the full package in women's halfpipe snowboarding. She's one of the only women able to consistently land 1080s, and she even has back-to-back 1080s in her arsenal. Her version of tricks like the switch method and the McTwist show that she's able to not just do technical tricks, but also do them with style.
When Kim was 4, her father decided that he wanted to try snowboarding instead of skiing, so he got her to join him on a board. The two ended up being riding companions for years, even though Kim started progressing much faster than her father. "When I learned how to turn, he was still struggling getting off the chairlift," she recalls. Kim entered her first contest when she was 6, then won junior nationals a year later. Eventually her father quit his job and began driving Kim several hours out to Mammoth Mountain each weekend so that she could train. He also helped served as her coach initially.
At 13 years old during the 2013/14 season, Chloe proved that she was ready to take the next step, finishing on the podium at several Olympic qualifiers and taking silver at X Games, but she was too young to compete at the Sochi Olympics.
At the Park City Grand Prix in February 2016, Kim became the first woman to land back-to-back 1080s in a halfpipe contest. It was a watershed moment in women's halfpipe, as it raised the bar for all the athletes and helped turn Kim into an unstoppable force — she didn't lose a contest for nearly a full year after that.
2016/17 season recap
By Kim's standards, it wasn't as dominant a season as had come to be expected. She finished just third at X Games (ending a nearly year-long winning streak) and fourth at the PyeongChang Olympic test event, but won the Copper Grand Prix, the Laax Open and the Burton U.S. Open. That was enough for Kim to finish the season ranked No. 1 in the World Snowboard Tour halfpipe standings for the second year in a row.
Off the snow
Kim is a first-generation Korean-American and still has family living in South Korea, where the 2018 Olympics will be held. She's also trilingual, having become fluent in both Korean and French in addition to English. You'll sometimes spot her experimenting with new hair colors, as seen below.
"She rides with a tremendous amount of amplitude and carries a lot more speed than any other female in the halfpipe. She’s in a whole different league. There’s really no one that can ride like that." — U.S. halfpipe coach Ricky Bower on Chloe Kim (May 2016, NBC News)