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If you are watching the Winter Olympics at all, you’ve most likely seen the stories about Chloe Kim (and her dad). Chloe won a gold medal for the United States earlier this week, in her sport of superpipe snowboarding.
I was doubly thrilled to see this young lady succeed because I have met her several times. When she was just 13, she attended her first Winter X Games. I met her at the media day and then heard all the chatter about her for the rest of the weekend.
Who was this young phenom? Where did she come from? Could she really be the next big thing in women’s snowboarding?
The fact that she was competing (with women twice her age) at Winter X Games, back in 2014, but not able to continue on to the Winter Olympics with them (because she was too young) was all anyone could talk about.
I had contacted her a few weeks before X Games that year, inquiring about doing an interview with her. To my surprise, she happily accepted the offer and gave me her own cell phone number. At the time she was traveling with her father, who spoke only a bit of English, so she did her own interview scheduling.
I found her to be delightful, full of youthful energy, yet still professional, when we finally met in the media tent that day. She bubbled with excitement, taking it all in. Later that weekend, as she competed in the superpipe, I found myself at the bottom of the pipe, able to text her between runs. It was surreal to me then, but makes me believe the stories of her open personality I’m seeing on the news this week.
Her father is also getting some attention. Ten years ago he quit his job to help Chloe further her career. He’s taken her to endless lessons and competitions and never complains. As he said in an interview after Chloe won her gold, “She’s my American dream.” The commercial they star in together perfectly represents the father and daughter I have witnessed at X Games.
This is the same man I met last year, as I once again stood at the bottom of that superpipe, waiting for his daughter to drop into her next run. I tapped him on the shoulder and asked for a photograph. He looked genuinely surprised and said, “Why would you want a picture with me? She’s the superstar!”
I laughed and said, “I’m a mom. I know that she’s only a superstar because she had an amazing dad behind her.” Then we took that picture.
I’m more than thrilled that Chloe is getting media attention, and that she’s carrying an Olympic gold medal around her neck today. She’s worked hard. I have witnessed it at four X Games and I’ve followed her on social media on the months in between. Every year she shows up at media day ready to answer questions, show off what color her hair will be that year, and flash that magnificent smile. The past two years she’s recognized me (a person she only sees once a year, in the midst of her crazy schedule) and embraced me with a hug. You cant help but love her.
But don’t underestimate her. She works hard, every day of the year, and has earned that gold that she’ll share with her family. Keep your eyes open. She’s not going away anytime soon. And next year, at Winter X Games, I just might have to bring her a little gold medal gift. I’ll give it to her right before she grabs another X Games gold, which would be her fifth.
We’re rooting for you at GeekMom, Chloe! Go conquer those pipes and continue to be such an awesome example to every little girl out there.
If your family has become Chloe Kim fans, check out the gallery of her, taken across several X Games competitions. They really show off her true personality.