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On Tuesday, snowboarder Chloe Kim became the second 17-year-old American to win gold in the 2018 Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, as Red Gerard won gold in the men's slopestyle just a few days earlier.
Kim's story is one for the record books. The daughter of Korean immigrants, she was good enough on the halfpipe to make it to the Sochi Games in 2014. But at just 13 years old, she was too young to make the team.
Instead, she charged onto the Olympic scene just miles from where her parents grew up.
But that wasn't all.
ESPN reported that Kim and her parents are convinced there was a reason she was forced to sit out the Sochi Games and that the wait made her even better:
Those four years she waited, she and her father, Jong, believe were necessary to allow her to become old enough and strong enough to handle all that comes with Olympic competition. He and Chloe's mom, Boran, call their daughter “Ipugi,” a hybrid Korean word they say means “baby girl dragon.” Chloe was born in the year of the dragon, or the “imgui.” According to Korean myth, a dragon is born a snake, waits 1,000 years then, on a stormy day, goes up into the sky and becomes a full-fledged dragon.
“Chloe didn't wait 1,000 years. She waited four,” Jong told me last year, foreshadowing Tuesday's competition. “At the Olympics, the ipugi will become a real dragon with her big power, the gold medal.”
And the “baby girl dragon” did not disappoint:
— NBC Olympics (@NBCOlympics) February 13, 2018
The gold was already hers when she began her third and final run, but Kim wasn't about to hold back. She delivered back-to-back 1080s — a first for women in the Olympic Games — and drove her score even higher to a nearly perfect 98.25.
But even dragons cry, as Kim proved when she stepped onto the podium and listened to “The Star-Spangled Banner” playing for her:
Happy tears! Sharing this moment, @chloekimsnow Grandma, 2 aunts & 3 cousins who live in Korea. This is 1st time they’ve seen her race in person. #SoSpecial #TeamUSA #OlympicsOn11 pic.twitter.com/nJsTUokFNa
— Cheryl Preheim (@CherylPreheim) February 13, 2018
Kim told “Today” show hosts Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb that she had a difficult time holding back the tears when the national anthem began:
“I was like, 'I can't cry right now. I can't do this. I worked so hard on my eyeliner!'” Kim said.
Kim was also representing her family, and her father stood in the crowd waving a homemade sign:
You wanna make me cry? Show me this picture of Chloe Kim's dad right before she hits the half-pipe. Yea, that'll do it. pic.twitter.com/IilYKUz8xr
— Rebecca (@BeckksSG) February 13, 2018
But when the 17-year-old won gold on Tuesday, she was racing for the first time in front of a number of family members who still live in Korea, according to ESPN:
The journey to arrive at the Olympics has been a family affair, and Kim's American and Korean families weren't about to miss her debut. Her parents and sisters, Tracy and Erica, flew to South Korea to support her, and this morning, Kim's 75-year-old grandmother, Jung Ae Moon, traveled from Seoul to watch her granddaughter compete for the first time. She was wearing a black neck warmer with “Chloe” embroidered on it and holding a poster that said “Go! Chloe Kim! Chloe's Family” in Korean. She stood, bundled from eyebrows to toes, for the entire competition and posed for photos with her other grandchildren, daughters and family friends.
Kim told “Today” that she was proud to represent the United States but also to represent both her Korean and American families.
“It's such an honor to just represent the U.S. and the country where my parents [emigrated] from,” she said.
Kim believes that she has finally earned the nickname “ipugi.” Her father reminded her of it with a Tuesday morning text: “Hey, Ipugi, today is your day to become a dragon.”
And by Tuesday afternoon, she agreed: “Yes. I'm a dragon.”
As for what was in her head during that final gold-medal run? Kim says she had just learned that her grandmother was in the crowd and said, “This one's for Grams.”
And then she turned up her music:
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