Olympic champ Chloe Kim refreshed and excited to return

The snowboarder took a year off from competition to focus on school, but is eager for a return to the halfpipe.

By ZK Goh

Chloe Kim may have taken a year away from competitive snowboarding, but that hasn't dampened her eagerness to get back on the halfpipe.

"Right now I'm working on getting my body back into snowboarding shape," she said, speaking to U.S. Women's National Team football player Kelley O'Hara on the Just Women's Sports podcast. "I'm really excited to get back and I think the break was really good."

The Olympic champion took a year off to attend Princeton University and to refocus, but said she has now asked for a leave of absence from college – despite not knowing whether global health conditions will allow the season to go ahead this winter.

"I just think I got kind of bored (of snowboarding) for a bit and just needed to switch it up," she said.

"I did it (college) for a year. I got a leave of absence so I will be able to compete fully this coming season – hopefully, if it happens. If it happens then I'll be able to compete full-time."

College and new experiences

The sameness of top-level snowboarding took its toll on Kim, who was accepted to Princeton in 2018 after her Olympic Games exploits.

"It was getting really repetitive for me, just competing, travelling, the same people all the time. Always. No new faces, nothing. The people I was surrounding myself with, I knew since I was like a child, we all grew up together. We all competed against each other at a young age, so everyone I knew, I knew for a long time," she explained.

"I thought I needed to experience more, and I really wanted to experience school. And I got into a really great school and I just thought that would be a perfect opportunity, because I also had broken my ankle the season after the Olympics, so I was like, I'm going to let this heal while I go to school.

"I have so many amazing new friends. Now I'm really grateful and happy I did that. I learned so much."

"Too good to be true"

Kim, a five-time X-Games champion and the PyeongChang 2018 snowboard halfpipe gold medallist, had met the qualification standards to go to Sochi 2014 but then only aged 13 was too young to compete.

Instead, she made her Olympic debut in South Korea, the home country of her parents. It was "overwhelming", she admitted.

And, two years on, the now-20-year-old still cannot believe she won in PyeongChang.

"It was such a crazy moment. In my opinion back then (before the Games), and still now, I thought the whole thing was way too good to be true. 'There's no way I'm gonna win the Olympics in Korea, my first time, there's no way.'

"In my life I just don't get that lucky so there's no way I would get this lucky now."

What is luck?

Despite her superstitions, Kim said there were aspects of luck in her success – but, being a snowboarder, those come with the territory.

"In my sport, it's weather and conditions, honestly. Everything else that comes with [success] is hard work. Even if it's snowing out and windy, I need to work hard in those conditions just in case there's contest under those conditions.

"I need to know how to do that, and learning how to do that is not easy and it's a lot of hard work. I'm gonna say it's 35 per cent luck and 65 per cent hard work."

If there is a season, Chloe Kim will be out there putting in the hard work. And maybe, she'll get her 35 per cent of luck along the way.


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