Meet the 16-Year-Old Snowboarding Phenom Favored to Win Olympic Gold!
Chloe Kim has quickly become one of the best snowboarders in the world — and she's only 16!
Chloe Kim has quickly become one of the best snowboarders in the world — and she’s only 16!
The teenager is racking up medal after medal at competitions around the world — and breaking records left and right. Last year, Chloe became the first female boarder to land back-to-back 1080s in the halfpipe. She’s also the first athlete to win three X Games gold medals before the age of 16. Her skills on the slopes have garnered her respect from top winter-sport athletes, like Shaun White, who calls her “really talented.” Oh, and she’s been nominated for two ESPY Awards already!
At 13, she was too young to compete at the Sochi Olympics 3 years ago, but Chloe dreams of boarding at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics. And she’s favored not only to make Team USA, but to nab gold at the competition.
“It’s always been a dream of mine,” Chloe tells PEOPLE. “I can’t believe the Olympics are so close!”
As Chloe prepares for the US Open Snowboarding Championships on March 4, the biggest competition of the year leading up to the Olympics, here’s what you need to know about the teen sensation taking the world of snowboarding by storm.
Her parents, who are immigrants, started her on the slopes early.
“My Dad brought me to this small local hill when I was 4, and that’s how it all started!” says Chloe. Her parents, Jong Jin Kim and Boran Yun Kim, first met in Switzerland and later emigrated from South Korea to the United States. They put their daughter on a board when she was just a toddler — and Chloe quickly fell in love.
She looks up to strong female snowboarders.
“My biggest hero is definitely Kelly Clark or Torah Bright,” she says. “They’ve been my biggest inspirations growing up and they’re the nicest and most down to earth people I think I’ve ever met. I don’t get intimidated by competing against people older than myself, only because everyone’s usually friends with their competitors in this industry and it’s a pretty laid-back vibe.”
She’s totally fearless.
“My favorite trick will have to be a Front 9, I just started getting really comfortable with them these past couple seasons,” she says. “The hardest trick I can do is a Cab 10, because it’s when you’re going backwards and spinning 3 full rotations. The Cab 10 is also one of the tricks that not a lot of people can do.”
She’s got support from big sponsors — and pro snowboarders!
Chloe has a multitude of high-profile sponsors, from Burton to Laneige to Oakley to a major deals with Target and Toyota and, most recently, Nike (for streetwear). And pro boarders, like two-time Olympic gold medalist Shaun White, have definitely taken notice. “It’s just awesome to see someone like her step out into the limelight just because she’s this really sweet girl. She’s really talented,” White told USA Today. “She’s kind of got that whole package going for her. And her riding is great and it speaks for itself.”
Chloe loves changing her hair color (and shopping!).
Blue, purple, pink… Chloe always has a new ‘do and, boy, does it look awesome in contrast to the white peaks she boards on! “It’s just so fun!” Chloe told PopSugar. Plus, she loves shopping with girlfriends. “I feel like a lot of people feel like snowboarding is really tomboyish,” she says. “That is not true!”
And while Chloe is a driven professional snowboarder, she’s still a teenager!
“My favorite thing about being 16 is probably driving!” says Chloe with a laugh. “I got my license right after my 16th birthday and it’s been life changing.”