Snowboarder Chloe Kim earned a gold medal in the women’s halfpipe finals on Tuesday morning (Monday night stateside) in Pyeongchang, South Korea, at the 2018 Winter Olympics. As she cemented her dominating track record in the halfpipe event, watching from below —with a large, laminated “Go Chloe” sign — was her biggest fan: her father.
“I was very stressed because everyone was saying Chloe was going to win gold, but no one knows the result — that I cannot control,” Kim’s father, Jong Jin, told CNN Sport. “Now I’m happy, all the stress is gone. I’m the dad of an Olympic gold medalist, not many people have this kind of feeling.”
Kim’s road to Olympic victory began when she was just four years old, when she, her father and her mother, Boran, decided as a family to give snowboarding a try, according to TODAY. Kim was a natural, and Jong Jin was soon taking his daughter on six-hour drives from their Torrance, California, home to Mammoth Mountain Ski Area to practice.
Selflessness and sacrifice have long been a part of Jong Jin’s journey.
He emigrated to California from South Korea in 1982, The New York Times reports. In Southern California, Jong Jon worked minimum-wage jobs to save money for college, and later settled in Torrance where he attended college and worked as a machinery operator.
“We — an immigrant like me —we always say, ‘the American dream,’ ” told TODAY, calling Kim his personal ‘American dream.’
As Kim grew older and her skills sharpened, Jong Jin quit his job to focus on his daughter and her dreams, according to CNN. And the significance of her father’s sacrifices isn’t lost on the phenom.
After snagging gold, she told CNN that she couldn’t fathom “leaving your life behind and chasing this dream with your kid.”
Now, the headline-making teen is the only female snowboarder who can pull off two 1080s right after each other. She’s won three gold medals at the Winter X Games and even qualified for the 2014 Sochi Olympics — but couldn’t compete because she was only 13 at the time.
PyeongChang is extra-special for the Kims, as she is competing in her family’s home country. Kim became emotional during the medal ceremony as her parents and grandmother looked on.
“I was like, ‘I can’t cry right now. I can’t do this. I worked so hard on my eyeliner!‘ ” she said. “It’s such an honor to just represent the U.S. and the country where my parents immigrated from. This whole process has been amazing, and this journey has been so fun and full of so many memories that I will hold onto for the rest of my life.”
Just before Kim’s gold medal-winning runs, Jong Jin texted his daughter an encouraging message: “Today is the day imugi turns to dragon.”
“She was born in the year of dragon,” Jong Jin said, according to NBC Olympics. “To be a dragon in Korean tradition is to wait 1,000 years. Before [you are] a simple snake … and then they turn to dragon. Go to the sky, and they make a big dragon with a gold pearl.”
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And it seems Jong Jin’s encouragement did the trick.
“[My dad] was like, let’s be a dragon today!” Kim said, according to NBC. “I was like, ‘okay, no pressure or anything. But I’ll try my best…’ Something has to be right about it. It turned out pretty well, If I’m a dragon, I’m down.”
The 2018 Winter Olympics are airing live on NBC. To learn more, visit teamusa.org.