At just 17, American snowboarding sensation Chloe Kim looks set to become the face of the Pyeongchang Games – no pressure then!
The Californian girl with Korean parents got a taste of Olympic-mania today when a news conference turned into a rugby scrum as the world’s media clambered to get a piece of the gold medal hope.
In the absence of a truly transcendent athlete such as figure skater Kim Yuna, South Koreans are looking to claim Kim as one of their own.
“It is very nerve-racking,” halfpipe star Kim told reporters. “I think this is the craziest place I’ve been with all these cameras.
“I was warned there was going to be a lot of press,” she added with a nervous smile.
“Competing at my first Olympics in the country where my parents came from is pretty insane. It’s kind of a crazy coincidence.”
Kim, who loves the beach, music and the mall almost as much as she does busting out her eye-popping snowboarding tricks, was so good at 13 she might have won gold at the Sochi Olympics.
Two years under the minimum age requirement then, fate decreed she would get her chance in South Korea, meaning her biggest fan – her grandmother, who enjoys boasting about Chloe’s exploits over tea – will be able to cheer her on for the first time.
“I grew up in a very Korean environment,” said Kim, her blond-streaked hair tied in a bun.
“My parents are very proud of Korea and there are lots of Koreans in LA, so I don’t feel completely isolated from the culture,” she added.
“I always ate Korean food and I feel like I grew up with both cultures. My parents are both really excited to be here and my grandma is out here cheering me on so it will be a really fun experience for the whole family.”