Ryan Mayer

With the 2018 Winter Olympics set to get underway, CBS Local Sports will be profiling five young, up-and-coming, Olympic athletes whose names you will likely hear a lot during the course of the Games. These athletes are our “Rising Stars” for the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in South Korea.

Since snowboarding was officially added as a sport in the Winter Olympic Games at Nagano in 1998, the United States has been the dominant force. In the five Olympics since, the U.S. has taken home a total of 24 medals across the snowboarding events (10 Gold 5 Silver 9 Bronze), and the sport’s stars have become some of the Games’ biggest names. Shaun White, Hannah Teter, Lindsay Jacobellis, Kelly Clark and Ross Powers have all had their turn in the national spotlight.

In PyeongChang this February, there’s a new name looking to make an impact, at the ripe old age of 17. Chloe Kim, a Las Palmas, California native, qualified for Team USA with a pair of wins in the half-pipe during Olympic qualifiers in December. It’s actually the second time that she’s qualified for Team USA, as she totaled enough points in 2014 to qualify as well, with just one problem, she was too young at age 13.

So, now, at 17, Kim enters Pyeongchang as the favorite in the women’s half-pipe event, partially due to the fact that she is the only woman capable of landing back-to-back 1080s, which she did at an event in 2016, earning a perfect score in the process.

Kim, of course, went on to win that event, one of nine wins that she’s already recorded in her professional career. During her time as a pro, Kim has never finished lower than 8th according to the FIS website. She’s already won a World Cup halfpipe title, finishing first during the 2017 season, and she currently leads the pack in 2018.

There’s another reason Kim’s name is one to know for the Winter Games: she’s Korean-American. Her parents, Jong Jin Kim and Boran Yun Kim, immigrated to the U.S. from South Korea in 1982. As Bleacher Report writer Joon Lee noted in that piece, Kim was followed by a horde of media and cameras in her trip to South Korea last February. The anticipation is that she will make a big impact in the Games and all the recent results indicate that will likely be the case. In addition to the spotlight she’s drawn from the media, her teammates have raved about her abilities. From the same piece:

“Many expect greatness from Chloe. “She is one of the most talented young riders I’ve ever seen,” Clark, her friend and most serious competition, said.

It’s easy to understand how Chloe has gotten to where she is today once you’ve seen her fly on a halfpipe. “She looks so relaxed, carries a ton of speed and makes it look pretty easy,” Rick Bower, the U.S. Snowboard head halfpipe coach, told me by phone.”

Kim’s Olympic journey is off to a good start, placing first after the two qualification runs in the women’s half-pipe competition. The final runs get started tomorrow.

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