PARK CITY, Utah — Chloe Kim called becoming the youngest female snowboarder to win an Olympic gold medal at age 17 and sharing the moment with her South Korean family in Pyeongchang last February “the perfect storm, the perfect story.”
In the year since, Kim, a vibrant Californian with an infectious smile, has been adding chapters. On Friday, she won her first world championship in the halfpipe, adding another accolade to her Olympic gold medal and her fifth X Games title, secured last month.
Continuing to push the limits of her sport, she barely missed landing a frontside double corked 1080 on Friday, the first time that she attempted the complex and dangerous trick in competition.
Kim attempted it during what was essentially a victory lap. Her first run score of 93.50 in the women’s halfpipe event quickly distanced her from the competition and ultimately secured her first world title.
Kim, the breakout star of the 2018 Olympics, has not lost in competition since January 2018. Cai Xuetong of China, who finished second Friday, is her closest rival and a likely challenger at the Beijing Winter Games in 2022.
“I think everybody knows Chloe is the boss, so I’m just so happy I got second,” said Cai, 25, who was the two-time defending world champion.
She is now preparing for her next challenge: Princeton University, where she will enroll in the fall.
“I’d love to live just a normal life there, where maybe people don’t recognize me and get to know me not because of what I do, but just because of me,” she said. “Anyone who is going to Princeton next year, just be cool.”
Kim joked that she probably would not start a Princeton snowboarding team or create a minor in the sport, but said, “you know what is crazy is that they’re so open to that, which is why I love Princeton so much. They really want all their students to be creative and do what they want.”
She wants to major in a science, calling chemistry her “favorite class ever.”
“I always missed the labs because I was always snowboarding,” she said.
Kim is still devising a game plan to balance school and snowboarding. She enjoys hanging out in the summer months with skateboarders in Southern California and taking a break from concocting creative snowboard tricks.
“Sometimes I feel like ‘I want to snowboard, I don’t want to go to school’ and then the next day I’m like ‘I want to go to school, I want to take a break from snowboarding,’ she said. “It’s such a little war going on in my head. I haven’t really figured this out yet because it is an Ivy League school, which means they are a little more hands on, and I can’t really travel as much so probably do a couple contests out of the year and miss out on some.”
She said she expected to take a leave of absence from Princeton at some point to train for the next Olympics.
Her boyfriend, Toby Miller, a snowboarder who many consider a protégé to the three-time Olympic champion Shaun White, calls Kim “the Golden Girl.”
“She has the same mentality as Shaun and just wants to keep bettering herself,” Miller, 19, said. “She wants to continue to progress women’s snowboarding.”
But Kim said she was not thinking about trying to equal White’s three Olympic gold medals or Kelly Clark’s three Olympic medals in snowboard halfpipe.
“I don’t know if I can do that for that long,” Kim said. “It would be cool to go to the Olympics three times, but I feel like I did it once and I’m really happy,” she continued. “I feel like when I’m 26, I’m going to be like my back, my arms, my legs, my shoulders, my neck. I feel like everything is going to fall apart.”
Kim also has lofty aspirations away from snowboarding.
“Whatever path I choose, I know it will be the right one — whether I keep snowboarding, do one more Olympics and then maybe retire and pursue school and education,” Kim said.
“I have so much I want to do in my life — I want to be a lawyer, I want to be a scientist, a doctor, all of these crazy things I want to try.”
She added to that list last week, after Kim and her parents rescued a lost dog in Park City’s Kimball Junction area.
“My parents saw this little thing cross the street, and there was a snowplow that was going to run the dog over,” Kim said. “My dad was honking like crazy for it to stop and mom ran out, grabbed the dog and brought it into the car.”
The family cared for the frightened dog at their hotel, and Kim posted a photo on Instagram. Within 15 minutes, she received a response and the dog’s owners came that night to retrieve it.
“I feel like after I rescued that dog, I want to start a nonprofit dog shelter,” she said. “That would be kind of cool.”