In Summary
  • With Lady Gaga's "Paparazzi" playing in her earphones, Kim set a blistering pace in Tuesday's halfpipe final, storming to gold with a charm and grace that will leave a lasting impression long after the Olympic flame has gone out.

PYEONGCHANG

Chloe Kim is the California beach girl with the bubble-gum smile and bleach-blonde hair who shredded to Olympic snowboarding gold — and became the twinkly-eyed face of the Pyeongchang Games.

The bubbly 17-year-old with Korean parents and a mischievous wit triggered 'Chloe-mania' as swooning locals adopted her as one of their own in the absence of a truly transcendent athlete such as retired figure skater Kim Yuna.

With Lady Gaga's "Paparazzi" playing in her earphones, Kim set a blistering pace in Tuesday's halfpipe final, storming to gold with a charm and grace that will leave a lasting impression long after the Olympic flame has gone out.

"There are plenty of examples of people who transcend their sport — one big example in Chloe's own sport: Shaun White — the comparisons between the two are uncanny," Elizabeth Lindsey, of LA-based marketing agency Wasserman, told AFP.

"Someone has to be snowboarding's face and an icon — I think they just got it in her."

Tales of how Kim's biggest fan — her Seoul-based grandmother — boasts about Chloe's exploits over tea to her fellow church-goers melted hearts.

Proud dad, Jong Jin Kim, went viral after he was spotted waving a hand-made sign which read "Go, Chloe!"

Smitten fans, many of them Korean, chanted: "Chloe Kim, Chloe Kim!"

There were also constant reminders that despite her fame and rapidly growing fortune, the American sensation is a typical teenager.

After qualifying, Kim craved ice cream — vanilla Swiss almond, or at a push a mango sorbet. Once the final ended, the munchies struck again.

"I'd really like a burger and some fries," said Kim, puffing out her cheeks. "Or some Hawaiian pizza."

But the serious business of chasing a gold medal took an emotional toll.

With victory assured before her final run, the enormity of her achievement suddenly hit her.

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