Chloe Kim Reveals the Training Routine and Life Lessons That Helped Her Make Olympic History
Chloe Kim knows it's cliché, but the simple expression "never give up" has played a key role in helping her bag the title of two-time Olympic gold medalist.
It's a piece of advice Kim's dad — her biggest supporter — has drilled into her head over the years, the 21-year-old pro snowboarder tells Shape. She learned just how impactful this little catchphrase could be when she was a seven-year-old competing in USASA's national championship, says Kim. Ahead of the boardercross contest (in which snowboarders simultaneously race through an obstacle course with jumps and sharp turns), Kim remembers her father telling her to pretend the finish line was at the gates to exit the course, well past the actual finish line. "I was like, 'Okay, dad. That's so dumb, but whatever, I'll do that,'" she recalls.
During the race, Kim says she fell to the ground and ended up in dead last — nowhere near placing in the top four and securing a spot in the finals. "I thought I had no chance whatsoever, but I didn't give up — I kept going," she says. With her dad's words of wisdom in mind, Kim managed to push her way up to fifth place and, as the finish line approached, she noticed the athlete riding in the fourth position already claiming and celebrating her win, she says. "I passed her on the last bump," effectively bagging a spot in the final round, recalls Kim.
"That was one of those moments where I was like, 'Okay, this is what he means,'" she says. "Because sometimes in life, you may feel like you're so far behind and you just feel so sad, disappointed, and heartbroken that you're not where you want to be. But at the end of the day, you can always get there. You can get there long as you don't give up, and I think that race taught me that." (Related: Olympian Chloe Kim Is Learning to Cope with the 'Pressure to Be Perfect All the Time')
Fourteen years later, Kim still has that lesson ingrained in her mind. She credits her dad's sacrifices and support, plus the confidence he has instilled in her, as a major contributor to her success at both the PyeongChang and Beijing Olympics. "I couldn't have done it without him," says Kim, who partnered with P&G for its Always There campaign, which explores how families have supported their athletes.
Of course, a rigorous training regimen has helped, too. Throughout competition season, Kim typically spends at least two hours a day performing drills on snow, though she was pushing through about six hours of practice daily leading up to the Beijing Games, she says. Off the powder, she also receives physical therapy and focuses on stability work, says Kim. "My training routine's pretty crazy," she adds. "I went to Switzerland for a month just to get all my tricks super dialed, and then I came home for like a week, and then we were off to Beijing." (These quick fixes will help you overcome jet lag sans coffee.)
Once summer hits, Kim trades the halfpipe for the gym — something she didn't do seriously until after the 2018 Pyeongchang Games, where she snagged her first Olympic medal, she says. Today, she works out nearly every day to ensure her "body can sustain all the impact from falling," focusing on heavy lifting and single-leg exercises to reduce the risk of knee and ankle injuries and improve balance, she explains. Last year, Kim also picked up running to spend time outdoors when it's not snow season — "that's kind of something I look forward to," she adds.
For the most part, though, Kim isn't too keen on this whole exercise thing. "It's definitely helped me improve my snowboarding, so that's why I do it," she says. "But if I had the choice, I probably wouldn't be working out every day."
The 21-year-old athlete isn't fussy about noshing on perfectly balanced post-workout meals, either. Blessed with a serious sweet tooth, Kim is an avid baker and is always up for crepes, pastries, doughnuts, and other treats, she says. Case in point: Kim tweeted that she "could be down for some ice cream rn" in between runs at the 2018 Games, and she even asked reporters for snacks in a media conference following her win in Beijing.
With her historic Olympic run behind her, Kim plans on taking this time to reflect on her accomplishments of the last few years, she says. Of course, she'll stick with a workout routine, albeit a less intense one, to maintain her strength and stability, even if she's not entirely sure if another Olympics is in store. But on the whole, she's set on enjoying her life as it is, says Kim.
"I'm going to go on a couple of vacations, just do whatever I want for a bit, and then I'll start making adult decisions again," she says. "But for now, I'm just going to be carefree and live my life." And yes, plenty of crepes will be devoured.