Chloe Kim has never been afraid of falling (she always gets up), nor of asking for food in the middle of a press conference (she is often hungry, she says…), even less of doing incredible tricks, pirouettes, and flips that she masters alone (at the 2022 Beijing Olympics, just that). Even gravity can’t bring her down to earth. But back in the field, we encounter connection difficulties. Thankfully, the empty Zoom screen is shattered by the sound of her bright, bubbly voice. Let’s talk with Chloe Kim, the prodigy who reached for the stars.
At age 4 her father put her on a snowboard, at age 6 she entered her first competition, at age 7 she won the national junior championships. At 15, Kim competed at the Youth Olympic Games (YOG) in Lillehammer, Norway, winning two gold medals. In Aspen, Colorado, she became the youngest female snowboarder and the youngest Olympic half-pipe snowboarding champion at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. Olympic gold, two world titles, six gold medals. at the X Games and two World Cup titles. Oh, and she’s a new ambassador for Breitling’s “All-Star Squad.”
Outstanding in terms of laid-back, combined with a bubbly personality, Kim is enthusiastic, engaging and committed to environmental and social causes. Open-minded and at ease between two cultures, Korea and America, the Los Angeles-based champion travels a lot. When she was younger, she lived in Switzerland, where she was also fluent in French. With her blonde locks, the SoCal girl is all talkative, (almost) like any other young adult her age, fueling a love for fashion, watches, makeup, K-Pop and partying with girls. friends. She binges Netflix. Indeed, she is taking a well-deserved and well-deserved break after 15 years of intense world-class competition. As Kim hits pause, she discusses her next challenge, mental health and luxury watches.
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From Korea to the United States, can you tell us a bit about your background?
My background is everywhere. I was born and raised in California. [Ed. note: Kim’s parents emigrated from Korea and met in Switzerland, when they both worked for travel agencies. They ended up in Southern California, where they raised their three daughters.] In fact, I lived in Geneva for a few years. So I started traveling the world at a young age, being able to compete. I never thought it would come to this, I’m super happy! I started snowboarding when I was four years old. I went there with my father and I fell in love with it. I was able to bond with him in the mountains, to be able to travel together [and] make lots of friends and get better and better at snowboarding. I can’t believe I’ve been doing this for so long – 18 years!
At 17, you became the youngest Olympic snowboard halfpipe champion at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. How did you discover the half-pipe?
In fact, I hated the half-pipe when I first discovered it. It was scary and I was not good at it. But that was because Mountain High, where I started snowboarding, didn’t really have a big, competitive-style 22-foot half-pipe. I never really experienced half-pipe snowboarding until I was in Switzerland, actually. Then my first international competition in the 22-foot half-pipe was in Laax, for the European Open. I won the Junior Jam, and then I was like, “Oh, that’s fun.” Then I kept going and I kept training, and now I love it.
What are your next challenges?
I take off this next season; I returned from Beijing in February and am pursuing other things at the moment. I’m going to hang up the bib for this season, but I’ll still be on the snow in the mountains, in the powder, having so much fun with friends. I will not participate in the competition next season. I’m excited for this free time because going to the Olympics is quite mentally exhausting, and I just need to give myself some time before doing it again.
You have collaborated with the BetterUp platform, which focuses on mental fitness, specifically “to strengthen your mind, the same way you do your body”. What motivated this?
What BetterUp does is amazing. Mental health is so important. I don’t really think I gave my mental health the attention it needed until the last two years (TD; LR: it was exhausted before the pandemic). I didn’t know how many people it affected, and I thought it was just me. But when Simone Biles, Naomi Osaka, and all those amazing athletes started talking about their mental health, their challenges, and their struggles, it encouraged me to do the same. It made me feel like I wasn’t the only one going through this and shouldn’t be ashamed. As soon as this happened, I started prioritizing my mental health and continued to spread this positive message. I also met Prince Harry [BetterUp’s Chief Impact Officer), which was really cool.
Who emotionally supports you?
My dad. Even at the Olympics, I got so nervous before, I called my dad immediately, like, “Help!” And he said, “You’ve got this, you’re fine, don’t worry!” He was my coach until I was 13; he taught me everything.
You’re part of a new crew, the Breitling “All-Star Squad.” How did this collaboration come about?
I’ve been working with Breitling for a few years now, and in the beginning, they said that they would love to put me in an “all-star squad” with Erling Haaland, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Trevor Lawrence, and then it finally happened! It’s awesome that we get to collaborate with other athletes and become this super squad.
All men! What do you think about the position of women in sports today?
It’s incredible how far we’ve come as women, and how we are finally getting the recognition that we deserve. There have been so many incredibly powerful female athletes who have driven this progressive movement. So, I am really proud to be a part of this change. A lot of great things are coming out of it.
You share the same environmental and social commitments as Breitling. How is its brand-new Super Chronomat Automatic 38 watch sustainable?
I love that watch so much. I have other models, too. This specific model offers a full supply chain traceability, so you know where the precious materials are coming from: the diamonds are lab-grown and the gold is from a small-scale artisanal mine in Colombia, which meets social and environmental standards. That’s one of my favorite things about Breitling—they are as sustainable and incredible as you could hope.
And what are its other aesthetic advantages?
I’m a girl that likes diamonds! I like shiny things, and I can tell you that these watches are very shiny. I love that a lot of them feel very unisex, like I’ll be wearing a watch and my dad’s like, “I want one of those.” And I’m like, “Oh, well it’s mine, so you can’t have it!” [laughs]. I have a selection of Breitling watches, and I love wearing a new one every other day and matching it to my outfit. Ever since I started working with Breitling, I’ve been addicted to watches, I can’t get enough of them!
Who are your favorite fashion designers?
I love fashion. I grew up in LA, so I feel like I’ve always been surrounded by that. Also, by traveling a lot in Europe, which is the center of fashion, I really got a lot of inspiration and started to love fashion more and more. It’s always summer here in LA, so it’s very easy. Ninety-nine percent of the time I wear sweatpants, because [right now] I’d rather stay home and watch Netflix [laughs]. Ever since I was 13, I’ve been a big fan of fashion. There are so many amazing designers, I even went to a dinner last night with Baptiste Cavalli, who designed my dress at the Met Gala. So exciting!
Have you experienced shopping in the Metaverse? Already have an avatar?
This is so cool! I’m currently working with this company that makes homes for famous people in the metaverse, so I have one in their athlete villages. I’m super excited about it, I think it’s coming out next year. I hope my house looks like a Breitling boutique where you can buy all the watches you want! [Laughs.]
You appeared in Maroon 5 and Cardi B’s “Girls Like You” music video in 2018, and in the movie charlie’s angels in 2019. Is there a possibility of a career change on the horizon?
I’m working on it. We’ll see what happens next! One of my sponsors, Roxy, actually allowed me to create my own signature line, so I had the privilege of designing a bit recently. It comes out in November. It was so exciting. I have an amazing team helping me do it, but it’s a lot of work, so I have a lot of respect for the designers.
What advice would you give to young people who would like to follow your path?
Never give up and stay positive, which is so corny, but it’s true. This is the reason why I am where I am now!
What is your perception of time?
I’m definitely someone who likes to be on time or early. I am gifted.
BEAUTY TIPS AND TRICKS FROM CHLOE KIM
Can you share a beauty secret to beat the cold?
I need the most hydrating moisturizer you can find. Right now I’m actually using Tatcha, which has been one of my favorite brands for a long time. It’s Dewy Skin Cream. I’m not sponsored by them at all, I’m just genuine. It’s my lifeline on the go; my skin does not dry out.
What’s your favorite way to thank your body post-workout?
I go straight to physiotherapy, because most of the time after training there are small injuries that need to be treated immediately. I do a quick recovery jog or workout then head to the spa. My favorite thing is getting a massage.
Do you have a suggestion for dealing with stress before a big day, like the Olympics?
It’s really hard to relax when you’re in the Olympic Village. Everyone is stressed but trying to enjoy it. Imagine you’re training for four years for something that’s going to be over in an hour! The best way to relax is to just talk to my family and friends, so I was just on FaceTime for everyone. The Olympics are such a cool experience. It’s amazing, and you can’t even believe you’re there.
What’s your secret weapon on the slopes?
Music! When I snowboard, I listen to rap. If you see me on the mountain and you try to talk to me, I probably can’t hear you because that’s how loud my volume is – it just rings in my ears.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
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