Korean-American snowboarding sensation Chloe Kim said Thursday that she tries not to feel pressure from the huge expectations on her at the PyeongChang Olympics.
Kim is one of the most anticipated athletes here at the PyeongChang Winter Games, due to her extraordinary performances in international competitions. The 16-year-old, born to Korean immigrants in the United States, currently tops International Ski Federation Snowboard half-pipe rankings.
Kim said she knows she is going to be watched by many in her first Olympics.
"I always try to see it in a positive way," she said at a press conference in PyeongChang, Gangwon Province.
Korean-American snowboarder Chloe Kim speaks at a press conference in PyeongChang, Gangwon Province, on Feb. 8, 2018. (Yonhap)
Kim said she feels proud of her heritage, and it feels like she gets to represent both South Korea and the US.
"If Koreans don't have anyone to cheer for, I want them to cheer for me because I would do it for both," she said. "I'm proud of everything that (my parents) have done for me. The work ethic here is amazing, and I think that's admirable and I'm very proud."
"These people that are expecting all of this out of me do that because they know I can do it and they believe in me. Obviously I want to do well, so it motivates me."
Kim often visits South Korea to see her relatives, including her grandmother. She said coming to her parent's land is always fun.
"In Los Angeles, there's a lot of people that came from Korea as well, so I don't feel completely isolated from the culture of the country," she said. "I just live in a different country."
Kim, who came to South Korea three days ago for the Olympics, can speak and understand Korean. She said it's so nice to understand the language of the Winter Olympics host nation.
"I was actually a translator for my team," she said. "We went to a water park yesterday and I was helping them out. I hated learning Korean first, but it's been so useful now."
Kim and the US freestyle snowboard team are scheduled to have their first practice at Phoenix Snow Park, the Olympics venue for the freestyle events, on Friday. Kim, who finished fourth at the Olympic test event last year, said she is aware of PyeongChang's notorious weather.
"It's so cold here, but I guess it's my fault being a snowboarder," she said. "We're at a mountain and so if it's warm that's going to be weird."
Kim said it's not the cold, but the strong wind that concerns her in PyeongChang.
"If it's windy it could affect us," she said. "But I heard it's really steep. As long as it's not windy it's fine."
Kim said she will stick to half-pipe for now, though she wants to try other disciplines, such as slopestyle and big air.
"Women's snowboarding has been progressing at such a fast rate, and it's such an honor to be part of that progression," she said. "It's really hard because even slopestyle is progressing at this rate, and big air is insane. Just thinking about that, I think should just think about myself. Medaling in one event is better than not getting anything at all."(Yonhap)