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Olympic champ Chloe Kim on the secret to facing challenges head on

Though there were so many tremendous athletic performances to come out of the 2018 Winter Olympics, Chloe Kim was by far the one to receive the most attention after winning gold for snowboarding making her the youngest woman ever to win an Olympic snowboarding medal. From blowing up on social media — her endearing pre-gold hunger Tweet — to being mentioned in Oscar winner Frances McDormand’s acceptance speech, this girl and her career on fire.

Though she was just accepted into Princeton University she intends to keep her snowboarding career going strong and why wouldn’t she? Kim has endorsement deals with  Toyota, Monster, and Target, has appeared in a Samsung commercial during the Super Bowl, and was the youngest athlete on the Forbes’ 2017 “30 Under 30” Sports list. Brand opportunities will only continue as her career progresses.

But with great success, comes great stress. Now a huge part of Kim’s appeal is her laid back, easy going, just wants to talk about food persona, even though she is performing incredible feats under immense pressure. But how does she stay so calm during these incredibly challenging moments in her career like tackling the half pipe?  In a live interview on espnW’s new Be Honest with Cari Champion series, Kim talked about feeling that pressure.

“My parents sacrificed so much, I think it was so important for me to like go out there and just do good, and show them … that all of our hard work as a family really did pay off,” she told Ladders after the taping, noting that her dad quit his job to devote himself to his daughter’s training and she also went to boarding school in Switzerland as a young teen.

Kim on dealing with pressure and nerves

“I put a lot of pressure on myself, and I definitely didn’t want to disappoint,” but there was something different that day at the Olympics she said. A sense of calmness overcame her.

“My body felt so relaxed. I felt like how you feel before you go to bed, you know? It was that same feeling I get when I’m in a fuzzy poncho. I felt cozy and at peace and home,” Kim said. Her status quo at most competitions was a lot of nerves “and I have to go to the bathroom when I get nervous, so I’m always running back and forth to the port-a-potties.” But there was something different this time.

Perhaps it was destiny. She said that during the Olympics that even though she had some nerves, she was also calm before starting because she felt “like it was meant to be because I felt so relaxed. Everything just went down the way I wanted it to.”

Despite having been very nervous during the semifinals, she approached the finals as “I’m here now. Now what?” Though she had fallen during her first two runs at the U.S. Open just a few weeks before, she didn’t let that overcome her.

Zen, z’s and churros

She described the Olympic village as completely hectic yet she was able to completely zone in on the mountain and have a quiet moment. “I had to take a step back but I was able to do what I wanted to do at the Olympics,” Kim told Ladders.

Sometimes we just know we are up to the challenge and we can conquer it. Though it does help to be in a zen state like Kim. She doesn’t practice yoga but she does attribute her ability to focus on “sleeping when she wasn’t on the mountain.”

It’s that subtle state of control that helps her also deal with the risk she takes every time she gets on her board. “I know that I’m putting myself in a gnarly situation but I love the risk. It’s dangerous but I can control it.” A follower of ritual, Kim used to yell YOLO (You Only Live Once) before every competition but now she knocks on her board, she told Champion during the taping of Be Honest.

It also helps that she is a great athlete and a very happy 17-year-old who most looks forward to eating an entire cake on her upcoming 18th birthday as throwing a party is just “too much work” for the self-labeled laziest Olympian.

Of all the benefits of her sudden thrust into fame, Kim says receiving free food has been her favorite part. “I got so many churros sent to my house,” she said. “It’s like everyone’s just giving me food.”

So there you have it. Being calm, sleep, churros and believing that you are in control of the situation is how Kim operates.

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