Even now — after the record-breaking, after three gold medals at the Winter X Games, after all the press coverage — 17-year-old snowboarder Chloe Kim still gets nervous before she drops into the half-pipe to compete.
“I’m shaking, my heart is pounding out of my chest, it’s like I’m freaking out,” she told PEOPLE in the fall, prior to her debut at the 2018 Olympic Games. “But once I’m moving, I feel fine and I feel relaxed.”
And it shows: Kim, who won’t turn 18 until two months after the Winter Olympics, has dominated the women’s half-pipe in recent years, with back-to-back medals at the X Games every year since 2014.
On Dec. 15, she qualified for Team USA — the second time she’s made the cut (the first was in 2014) — but the first time she’s actually been old enough to compete in the Olympics.
“My parents are really excited about it, and it’s some crazy luck that my first Olympics are going to be in Korea where my parents are from,” says Kim, a California native. “And a lot of my relatives over there have never really seen me compete before, so I think it’s going to be pretty cool for everyone. It’s really exciting, my whole family is really excited about it, so that gets me even more stoked!”
Kim says she feels she can “represent both Korea and America,” given her heritage.
The teen says she first got on a snowboard at age 4, at her dad’s urging: “He took me there to bribe my mom to come snowboarding with him so I was like the bait.”
While she may be one of the youngest breakout stars on the snow in February, “hopefully I get to do more than one Olympics in my lifetime.”
“I feel like now is a cool time for me,” she says. “I’m going to turn 18 next year. I’m going to go off to college, and I just think having that experience and going through all of it before another big part of my life comes around is going to be really exciting for me.”
Kim’s prodigious physical prowess — she’s the only female snowboarder who can pull off two 1080s right after each other — as well as her youth and personality continue to draw headlines. (One Sports Illustrated article from last year labeled her the “queen of snow” and predicted she could “rule snowboarding for years to come.”)
“Luckily for me, snowboarding doesn’t really feel like work unless I’m actually doing stuff that’s like work-ish, but when I’m just snowboarding I’m having so much fun,” she explains, adding, “I always have fun on the mountain, so it’s always nice to go back out there and do what I love.”
Heading into the PyeongChang Games, she is widely considered one of America’s best shots at gold. She’s aware of the hype, but it’s not a big burden.
“At the end of the day, obviously there is going to be some pressure that comes along with it, but at the same time it’s like, you know, ‘Wow, these people really believe in me and have all this confidence in me.’ I think that pushes me to be better and motivates me,” she says.
(And yes, she has searched for herself on the internet: “The first pictures that pop up of me are like when I was 12 and I’m just like, ‘I don’t look like that any more! Stop! Give your girl a chance.’ “)
Kim’s time competing is heavily regimented, with key support from her dad, a former engineer who “really understands the physics of things and how gravity works and all that crazy stuff.”
Outside of the spotlight, Kim is still a teenager, although she does admit her achievements in the sport meant “I had to grow up a little fast.” She travels with her parents — though she’ll “probably” start traveling alone after the Olympics — and is active on social media, where she often shares photos of her mini Australian shepherd, Reese.
“I have two amazing sisters, my mom and I are like best friends so we always go shopping together, we always take Reese to the park together, and I think just me living in the city, when I’m not on snow, just kind of helps a lot with my life and being normal,” Kim says.
“Like when I’m not snowboarding, I’m probably at the mall getting new clothes or at Petco.”
The Winter Olympics begin Feb. 8. To learn more, visit teamusa.org.
The Kardashian fam finds out that Scott Disick is dating Sofia Richie on ‘KUWTK,’ and Kim is surprisingly supportive of their relationship!
The ladies of The Real Housewives of Atlanta are heading to Spain! Well… some of them, that is.
On Sunday’s all new episode of the hit Bravo show, the Atlanta Housewives hopped a flight to Barcelona for this season’s big girls trip — though not all of ATL’s best made it to the tarmac for takeoff.
Longtime rivals Kenya Moore and Kim Zolciak-Biermann skipped the getaway, for very different reasons that left costars NeNe Leakes, Kandi Burruss, Cynthia Bailey, Shereé Whitfield and Porsha Williams polarized.
For Moore, her insistence on avoiding drama and conflict in the wake of her marriage to husband Marc Daly was a real driving force.
“I passed on Barcelona because I have been on two trips already with these ladies and each have had negative components,” the 47-year-old former Miss U.S.A. explained, recalling visits in San Francisco and Houston earlier this season that exploded in questions about her relationship and criticisms of her attitude.
“My priority is my family,” Moore continued.
Bailey, a BFF of Moore’s, appeared to understand. “Kenya’s at a point in her life where she just got married, she’s happy,” the supermodel, 50, told audiences. “So if I can’t get Kenya to allow me to meet her husband in the United States, how in the hell am I supposed to convince her to come to Barcelona if she doesn’t want to go.”
But when it came to Zolciak-Biermann’s decision to stay behind, Bailey’s costars were far less understanding.
Perhaps that’s because Zolciak-Biermann has been difficult about traveling on group trips in the past during RHOA‘s first five seasons.
There was the vacation to South Africa that she skipped in season 4 so she could stay at home with her kids. And then there was the couples trip to Anguilla in season 5, which the mere discussion of caused the mother-of-six (who was pregnant at the time) to storm away from the cameras and quit the show entirely.
She’s back now after a 5 year hiatus, in a ‘Friend of the Housewives’ role. But even though she’s not full-time, the cast still wanted her to join them — and fellow guests Shamea Morton, Marlo Hampton, and Eva Marcille — for the overseas excursion.
Sadly, that wasn’t going to happen because Zolciak-Biermann wasn’t going to travel to Spain without her husband Kroy Biermann coming along.
Her reasoning? The mini-stroke she had in September 2015, that lead to her hospitalization (and, eventually, heart surgery after doctors discovered an existing genetic condition that required treatment).
“Less than two years ago, I had a stroke coming from L.A. which is a 4-hour flight. Going to Barcelona, which is a 10 hour flight, does make me nervous,” Zolciak-Biermann said. “I know that my husband would make sure I’m okay. He knows why signs to look for… It makes me very uneasy.”
“I don’t know why it’s an issue to bring Kroy,” she told her cast. “He’s my husband. I don’t understand what the problem is.”
RELATED VIDEO: Kim Zolciak-Biermann Reveals She Is Still Coping With Lingering Effects of 2015 Stroke
Not everyone was against the idea, including Williams, Whitfield, and Bailey. “This trip is a girlfriends trip. However, I know when it comes to Kim, her idea of girlfriends is her and her girlfriends and Kroy,” Bailey explained. “I have no energy to go back and forth about it. She wants to bring Kroy, bring Kroy.”
“Kim likes to bring Kroy everywhere she goes,” Whitfield said. “Now, I can’t say I’m 100 percent opposed to that because I’m a girl who likes to be spoiled. So if I got a man who wants to drive me around and sit in the parking lot, then okay!”
Still, pressure from folks like Leakes kept Zolciak-Biermann from getting on that plane.
“NeNe was super vocal about Kroy not going,” Zolciak-Biermann said. “A 10 hour flight and not bringing my husband, it does make me nervous.”
Her absence made Leakes happy.
“Kim is not coming, which I think is amazing,” Leakes, 50, said. “She was going to come and Kroy was going to come. But really, it’s a girl’s trip. And I don’t think that anyone should have to travel on this trip if they cannot travel without their significant other.
“I think it’s the strangest thing that she cannot leave and travel without Kroy,” Leakes added. “She can’t travel without Kroy? That is so stupid.”
Burruss appeared happy too: “If Kim wanted to come on the trip with her husband, than stay at home,” the Grammy winner, 41, said. “It’s a girl’s trip. Kim is always the one who feels like she doesn’t have to follow the rules. Which is fine. You don’t have to hang out with the circle.”
The Real Housewives of Atlanta airs Sundays (8 p.m. ET) on Bravo.
CNN is getting dragged online for writing a glowing puff piece about North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s sister, who sat among world dignitaries at the Olympics in Pyeongchang and tossed a diplomatic offer to the South aimed at ending seven decades of hostility.
Sarah Jessica Parker plans to speak out after feeling Kim Cattrall’s angry post accusing her of exploiting her brother’s death is giving off the wrong image.
Kim Kardashian and Kanye West looked hotter than ever when they posed with the gorgeous Chrissy Teigen and John Legend at Ellen DeGeneres’ 60th birthday party.
Ellen DeGeneres‘ birthday party on Saturday drew a who’s who of Hollywood — and, luckily, there was a photo booth on-site to document it all.
The TV host, who celebrated her 60th birthday on Jan. 26, recruited some of her famous friends to mark the milestone this weekend.
“Having the best birthday,” the talk show host wrote.
Teigen also shared several photos from the night out, including a full-length shot that showed off her baby bump in a flowing gown, as well as Legend’s suave blue suit.
Mom & Dad pic.twitter.com/rxslk2gKW0
— Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) February 11, 2018
— Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) February 11, 2018
Having the best birthday. https://t.co/NOxtAugvR7
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) February 11, 2018
However, it was Meghan Trainor who got the most coveted photo: a silly shot with the birthday girl herself.
This is just the latest round of birthday wishes for DeGeneres rom A-list stars. Ever since the big day, DeGeneres’ show has been filled with surprise celebrity guests showing her their love.
RELATED VIDEO: Ellen DeGeneres’ Father Elliot Dies at 92: ‘There Was Not One Bone of Judgment in His Body’
During a special two-hour episode, Sofia Vergara stopped by to wish the host a happy birthday — and give her an electric scooter to help ease the transition into her golden years. Jimmy Kimmel then figure-skated his way onto the stage, followed by Jamie Foxx, who showed up with a bottle of champagne for a special toast. The first hour wrapped up with Chance the Rapper, who surprised DeGeneres — “a truly special person” — with flowers.
But the best surprise came at the end of the show, when DeGeneres’ wife Portia de Rossi presented an incredibly thoughtful gift that brought the host to tears: de Rossi is building the Ellen DeGeneres Campus of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund next to Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda — a center for education, tourism and further scientific research. (DeGeneres has been a longtime admirer of Fossey, a late scientist who studied the rare mountain gorilla in Rwanda.)