Winter Olympics 2018

Little girl makes daddy proud

Chloe Kim performing a move during her third run yesterday in the snowboard half-pipe final at the Olympics, winning gold with a near-perfect 98.25. China's Liu Jiayu was second and American Arielle Gold third.
Chloe Kim performing a move during her third run yesterday in the snowboard half-pipe final at the Olympics, winning gold with a near-perfect 98.25. China's Liu Jiayu was second and American Arielle Gold third.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Chloe Kim, 17, is youngest snowboard champ and pays tribute to family's sacrifice for her

PYEONGCHANG (South Korea) • Chloe Kim became the youngest female snowboarder to win Olympic gold as she dominated the women's half-pipe yesterday, yet if it was not for her father's sacrifice when she was seven it could have been a whole different story.
 

Her father, Kim Jong Jin, who had encouraged her to get on a snowboard aged four, gave up his job as an engineer three years later to focus on his daughter's budding sporting career - accompanying her to practices and competitions.

Chloe, now 17, has long praised her father, who was in attendance alongside her mother and grandmother at Phoenix Snow Park to watch her win gold with a near-perfect score of 98.25.

"My dad has definitely sacrificed a lot for me and I don't know if I could do it, if I was in his shoes," Chloe, who was born in California, told reporters.

"Leaving your life behind and chasing this dream because your kid is passionate about this sport. I think today I did it for my family and I am so grateful to them."

Her father, who during the competition held a wrinkled, handwritten sign that read "Go Chloe!" next to a big, red heart, stood at the back of the media conference with a huge smile across his face.

He did not cry according to Chloe, which had surprised her.

"I hate talking about my dad when he is here because he gets really cocky," she joked. "I am going to be hearing it for three more years: 'remember when you talked about me in your press conference'?"

Kim senior, who said he was lucky enough to be financially secure before he quit work, admitted he was immensely tense before the competition started.

"I was nervous before the first run because, even though everyone talks about Chloe all the time, nobody knows the result; maybe she will fall three times," he said.

"After she landed the first run I could then just enjoy the rest of the day. She can do what she wants to do. I just hope she lives as a happy girl."

Indeed, like every father, he had every reason to worry about his precious daughter.

Shortly after throwing down her first run, Chloe posted a typical teenage tweet. "Wish I finished my breakfast sandwich but my stubborn self decided not to and now I'm getting hangry," she wrote.

She explained to reporters that she had been on Twitter to help her relax and that she was craving a burger or a Hawaiian pizza.

"I came here on Instagram with 164,000 followers and now I have like 300,000 and something, which is insane.

IMMENSE GRATITUDE

Leaving your life behind and chasing this dream because your kid is passionate about this sport. I think today I did it for my family and I am so grateful to them.

CHLOE KIM, on how her family, in particular her father, sacrificed a great deal to help her succeed in sports.

"There is definitely a lot happening and I did feel a little overwhelmed but I am trying to take in the whole experience."

Because of her Korean heritage, Kim has also attracted swathes of support from local fans and is greeted by cheers and requests for wefies everywhere she goes.

"Chloe Kim is a hero for both America and Korea," said Korean fan Kim Ji Ah, who had an American flag draped across her shoulders.

"I wish my name was Chloe Kim, not Ji Woo Kim," said another young Korean supporter.

Korean and American fans celebrated together as Kim laid down her spectacular array of tricks.

And on an empty stomach, she delivered when it mattered most.

Chloe is not the only athlete to have made a mark so far. A senior Olympic official hailed Canadian skater Eric Radford yesterday after he became the first openly gay man to win Winter Games gold.

After Radford said he "might explode with pride" after helping Canada to figure skating team gold on Monday, Angela Ruggiero, head of the IOC athletes commission, called the achievement "fantastic".

"We celebrate diversity at the IOC and that's something that's hopefully fundamental to what we want in Olympic values," she said.

"I think it's encouraging, it sends a strong message to that fundamental principle of acceptance globally."

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 14, 2018, with the headline 'Little girl makes daddy proud'. Print Edition | Subscribe