Published: Thu, February 15, 2018
Culture&Arts | By Hattie Nash

Snowboarding: Father's sacrifice pays off as Kim claims gold

Snowboarding: Father's sacrifice pays off as Kim claims gold

When she was 15, Kim became the first female snowboarder in history to land back-to-back 1080 degree spins in competition, at the US Snowboarding Grand Prix in February 2016.

Kim's final run earned her a almost flawless score from the judges.

"It means a lot just being able to do it where my family is from". When I walked up to Gold late last week to inquire about her Olympic dreams, she insisted on asking me a question before starting our conversation about snowboarding. She has exceeded every one. "So it's very special". While that might limit the earning potential of many athletes, the right person can transcend their sport and become a major star.

"This one's for grams", Kim recalled thinking, provoking a round of "Awwws" in the post-competition news conference. "I think they just got it in her". "It's a very big blessing".

She made peace signs to her father, Jong Jin Kim, who reciprocated from the back of the room, shaking his head and laughing at his daughter's calm. She ran the gauntlet of TV interviews and negotiated the maze of reporters with equanimity.

"He wanted my mom to go with him", Chloe explained. Kim tweeted early Tuesday morning.

Heading into her third and final shot at a medal, the scores posted on the board in front of Gold were daunting, with the best riders in the world, including Liu Jiayu of China, as well as US teammates Chloe Kim and Kelly Clark with an iron grip on the top three spots in this competition. It was also something of a homecoming.

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Finishing second was Canadian Laurie Blouin who was able to put down her best run on the second lap, when winds got worse. Max Parrot of Bromont, Que., won silver and Regina's Mark McMorris took the bronze. "She likes to win".

Advertisers seem to love her life story - her parents are immigrants from South Korea, and her dad pretty much quit his job to help her train. He protested his innocence and vowed to clear his name."I want to fight to prove my innocence because I don't remember (taking the drug) and it's incomprehensible", he said in a statement.

"But I love all my fans".

It is testament to Kim's prodigious talent that her extended family saw her compete for the first time at the very highest level.

She admits to not having all that much more familiarity with South Korea than the average 17-year-old American kid.

Shaun White returned to the slopes for the fourth time for Team USA in the halfpipe qualifiers.

Now, with the benefit of hindsight, she acknowledges the ruling was in place for a reason.

Kim was so good at age 13, she might have won the Sochi Olympics had she been old enough. "To bring home a medal to a town that has given me so much is incredible", said Gold, who's 14-karat Colorado to the core.

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Another comfort for Kim is knowing she can count one of her greatest idols among her U.S. teammates.

Their paths first crossed in the lift line at Mammoth Mountain when Kim was eight. "I tell her to be humble, that this is from hard work, that you weren't born this way".

Kim, a social media maven, is far from boring. Sports Business Journal declared in January: "You'd be hard-pressed to create a more promising brand spokeswoman in a lab".

Nike, Toyota, and Visa are among companies that already sponsor Kim, and her marketing appeal is set to explode.

In that moment, the lucrative Super Bowl endorsement deals, global fame and geopolitical significance of her potential success will all fade away.

In Jeongseon, Hirscher's combined two-run time was 0.23 seconds faster than silver medalist Alexis Pinturault of France.

"The thing about snowboarding is everyone has their own unique style", Kim says. Truth be known, she's a little hard on herself, with an inner voice that sometimes criticizes so pointedly that it drives out some of the joy in grabbing big air on a board.

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"I could even just watch two of my friends ride down without doing any tricks and I'd know exactly who they are because of the way they ride. the way their hand is, or the way they're bending their knees".

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