Snowboarding Champion Sets Sights on Ivy League Education

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05 February, 2019

Chloe Kim was one of America's top Olympians during last year's Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. The snowboarding champion, who grew up in California, competed there at 17 years of age. She became the youngest woman ever to win an Olympic gold medal in the halfpipe competition.

Kim clearly feels at home on the mountain and inside the halfpipe. She recently won a halfpipe competition during the Winter X Games in Aspen, Colorado. And she is a big favorite in an upcoming world championship competition in Utah.

But the 18-year-old snowboarder has decided to trade some trips down the halfpipe for an Ivy League education. Beginning next fall, Kim will be joining Princeton University's Class of 2023.

Instead of centering on the physics of her winning snowboard moves, she could now be learning the subject in school. And in addition to making her own history, she will now be studying it.

In a recent interview with the Associated Press, Kim said her aim is to make her higher education experience as normal as possible.

"I'd love to be Chloe, the girl who sits next to me in English class," Kim said. "My life has always been so different. I'd love to live a normal life for once."

But she admits that could be a tricky goal. Her snowboarding career has made her highly recognizable.

Kim received widespread attention during the Pyeongchang Games. The publicity was fueled by her friendly, energetic nature as well as her interesting family story. Her parents are from South Korea.

One of her most memorable Olympic runs began with Kim giving a quick shout-out to her South Korean grandmother. "This one's for you grams," she said.

It was her grandmother's first time watching Kim perform in person.

On that day, Kim dropped into the halfpipe and landed back-to-back 1080-degree turns on her second and third jumps. That combination had never been successfully completed by any other woman in competition.

Along her path to Olympic gold, Kim also became a social media star. She often tweeted about the things she loves to do and eat. In one message, she told her followers two of her favorite foods, churros and ice cream. Since then, many fans – and some companies - have sent churros and ice cream right to her door.

Since attending the Pyeongchang Games, Kim has had the chance to do some other cool things off the mountain. She helped design a snowboarding Barbie doll in her likeness. She rapped with hip-hop artist G-Eazy and joined other sports stars to be honored with ESPY Awards.

While all of this was fun, Kim says she now looks forward to a new challenge -- earning a degree from one of America's top universities. She says she considers her acceptance to Princeton just as much of an honor as earning an Olympic gold medal.

"It's really crazy because Princeton was my dream school before snowboarding took off," Kim told the AP. "I just liked the name when I was really young and didn't know about college or anything. My parents were like, ‘OK, whatever.' When it really happened, it's like, ‘Oh... OK.' It's just really exciting."

She is still deciding what her exact field of study will be at Princeton. But she said it will involve something science-related, possibly chemistry or biology.

And she does not plan to put her snowboard away anytime soon. She is attempting to work out a plan that will permit her to keep training while going to classes.

Kim says her sports and educational goals go hand-in-hand.

"It's all about progressing the sport and also pushing myself," she said. "To see what I can do, and how far I can go."

I'm Jonathan Evans.

The Associated Press reported on this story. Bryan Lynn adapted the report for VOA Learning English, with additional information from online sources. Ashley Thompson was the editor.

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Words in This Story

churros – n. a thin deep fried dough, usually topped with sugar and cinnamon

dolln. a plastic baby toy played with by children

trip - n. an experience or activity that is like a journey

interview - n. an experience or activity that is like a journey

rap - v. to perform rap music or a rap song (rap: a type of music that has words that are spoken with the rhythm instead of being sung)

challenge n. something difficult that tests someone's ability or determination

hand in hand phrase. things that work well together