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Chloe Kim on Life After the Olympics and Being a Teenage Role Model

The snowboarding phenom talks to Dave Chang about the pros and cons of growing up in the half-pipe

Medal Ceremony - Winter Olympics Day 4 Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Olympic snowboarder Chloe Kim first met Dave Chang the day after her gold-medal-winning run at the Pyeongchang Olympics. Chang, then NBC Sports’ Olympic food correspondent, made Kim churro ice cream sandwiches out of pizza dough after Kim’s now-famous pre- and mid-event tweets. Months later, they reunited on The Dave Chang Show to discuss everything from desserts to their shared Korean American heritage.

Listen to the full podcast here. This transcript has been edited and condensed.


On Making Genuine Post-Fame Connections

Chloe Kim: It’s been hard for me to make friends, because I don’t really know people’s true intentions.

Dave Chang: How hard is that [after the Olympics]?

Kim: It’s not that great. I’d love to just go somewhere and meet a new friend and even just not have social media so they couldn’t see how many followers I had, or how many likes I got on my photos. I want people to like me for me, not what I do, not for my day job. So it is hard, but I’ve been meeting a lot of people outside of the snowboarding industry, other athletes, so that’s been cool.

Chang: That’s incredibly tough, because I feel like I’m still learning all the things that you’ve already learned. I don’t know if age or just living on this planet gives me an advantage. I think that you’re incredibly mature and you’ve overcome some wildly difficult situations and circumstances. It’s incredibly inspiring and my heart goes out to you for being as young as you are and feeling like you can’t trust people. That’s such a crazy place to be — I don’t know if many people can ever empathize.

Kim: Yeah, after the Olympics, all of a sudden I have all these people reaching out to me from old schools. I didn’t even know I had other relatives, but after I won, it’s like, I have 15 cousins now. I learned pretty early that you need to be careful with who you hang around with. You have to make sure you know their true intentions, because you never really know anymore. I had a few friends that I had to cut off because I just didn’t feel like they were genuine, and it sucks. It really does suck. And I am envious of people that can trust people a little more easily. Just like a normal high school kid … you can just trust people more. I feel like with me, I don’t know who’s genuine or if they’re just reaching out because they want to be friends with Chloe Kim.

On Being a Teenage Role Model

Chang: What are your thoughts, now that you’ve experienced all this, on being a role model? Not just for snowboarding, but for women, Asian American culture … are you reluctant to embody this?

Kim: I’m so lucky to be in this position where I worked so, so hard and I achieved something so great, something that I have been working toward for 14 years now. I started snowboarding when I was 4 and my dad was, like, “All right, we’re going to make her an Olympian. We’re going to make her an Olympic medalist, hopefully.” And now that it happened … I turn a lot of heads at restaurants. I go to the mall and see a few fans and just … it all really happened. But at the same time, I had to grow up pretty fast. I got second at the X Games when I was 13, and ever since then, it was just a lot of press. And then when I was 14, I won X Games, and at 15 I was just winning everything. It was amazing, don’t get me wrong — I was really happy with how it was progressing, but I just felt like I didn’t get to live that much of a normal life. I didn’t really go to school, I was homeschooled. So I don’t know, I feel like my social skills are a little off.

Chang: I think they’re just fine. I think they’re great.

Kim: [Laughs.] I mean, with snowboarding and all that I was able to meet a lot of my really close friends, and that’s been amazing. But I always wonder what homecoming is like at school, what prom is like, what high school drama is like. Do [people really] yell at each other in the locker room? What happens? The closest thing I get to that is watching 13 Reasons Why or something. [Laughs.] I don’t understand it, but I want to, and it’s something that I’m really curious about. But I feel like if I had the chance to go back, I probably wouldn’t change a thing, because what I’m doing is a lot cooler.