The first Tiger has found their way to the medal podium in Beijing.
On Thursday, former Princeton student and Team USA snowboarder Chloe Kim made history by becoming the first woman in Olympic history to win back-to-back gold medals in the halfpipe competition. Kim previously won gold in the halfpipe four years ago at the 2018 Winter Olympics, when she became the youngest woman to win an Olympic snowboarding gold medal at the age of 17.
After taking first place following the qualifying round on Wednesday, Kim was under pressure to take home gold again. In the halfpipe competition, each athlete gets three tries, or runs, to attempt to accumulate the highest score. The snowboarder's highest score is then used to determine the winner of the competition.
Kim scored a nearly perfect, unbeatable score of 94.00 on her first run, before faltering on her next two. Despite scoring only 27.00 and 26.25 on her next two attempts, her first run’s score would prove enough to secure gold once again, adding another accomplishment to her already impressive resumé. Queralt Castellet of Spain and Sena Tomita of Japan took home silver and bronze, respectively.
“Thank you thank you thank you for all the love,” Kim wrote in an Instagram post late Thursday night acknowledging her victory. “It still hasn’t hit me yet but so so proud to bring home another gold!!”.
Born and raised in Torrance, Calif., Kim began snowboarding at the age of four and joined the U.S. Snowboarding Team in 2013. The young phenom shocked the world at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang when she won gold in half-pipe. The victory in 2018 was extra special for Kim, a second generation Korean-American, as she was able to take home gold in her parents’ home country.
Following her victory in 2018, Kim took a nearly two-year hiatus from snowboarding and spent a year attending Princeton during the 2019–20 academic year. At Princeton, Kim initially felt like fame impeded upon her ability to be a full-time student. “I don't want to be here as the snowboarder ... I want to be like everyone else. I want to be normal,“ Kim revealed to TIME Magazine. She has since told NBC’s “Today” show that her time at Princeton was a “good reset,” a sentiment which she echoed with her farewell tweet to Princeton in 2020. She is unlikely to return to Princeton in the future.
After leaving college, Kim set her sights on becoming a repeat champion at the Olympic Games. She has now accomplished her goal, capturing a second gold medal and solidifying her status as the superstar of snowboarding.
Kameron Wolters is a contributor to the Sports section at the ‘Prince.’ He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Instagram at @kam.wolters.