Morning Chronicle - Chloe Kim 'learnt to relive my life' in turbulent Olympic aftermath

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Chloe Kim 'learnt to relive my life' in turbulent Olympic aftermath
Chloe Kim 'learnt to relive my life' in turbulent Olympic aftermath

Chloe Kim 'learnt to relive my life' in turbulent Olympic aftermath

Chloe Kim said she was recharged and primed to defend her snowboard title at the Beijing Olympics after a nearly two-year layoff prompted by pandemic anxiety, the pressures of fame and even people breaking into her house.

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The American, one of the stars of the last Winter Olympics when she won halfpipe gold as a teenager, comes into Beijing with triumphs in all five events she's competed in since returning to action a year ago.

"My goal here is to land the best run I can. That's the run I want to do and I'm really hoping I'm able to pull it off here. I've been thinking about that run for a long time," Kim said.

Kim made history at the 2018 Pyeongchang Games when she captured halfpipe gold at 17, becoming the youngest woman to win an Olympic snowboard title.

But the American snowboarder of South Korean heritage has struggled with life outside of competition.

She has admitted being gripped by fear of the pandemic, sitting in front of the television and crying as she devoured news of the coronavirus' spread, and anxiety over a spate of US attacks on people of Asian heritage.

Compounded by the harsh glare of stardom and the personal sacrifices that elite athletes must make, it all culminated in Kim tossing her Olympic gold in the garbage.

"After I won my first Olympic gold medal in 2018 I experienced something incredibly difficult to overcome and it was just learning how to relive my life," she said.

"Going anywhere, people recognising me, people figuring out where I lived, trying to break into my house. It was a pretty big invasion of privacy. That was something that I'd never thought would happen to me.

"The only thing that I could blame was that medal. But don't worry, I got it out of the trash."

Burnt out, she hung up her board and went to college for a year, partly to experience the normal teenage experiences that she had missed out on.

"The (2018) Olympic year would have been when I would go to prom," she said.

Watching her friends live a life that she couldn't "made me feel like I wanted to do something else for a bit and I'm really grateful and happy I did that".

Still, returning to competition "was always the plan".

"It's OK to take a step back if you feel like you need some space and now I'm back and I feel so much better than I did then."

Women's snowboard halfpipe qualifying gets under way on Wednesday.