PYEONGCHANG, South Korea, Feb 13 (Reuters) - Shortly after throwing down her first run in the women’s snowboarding halfpipe final on Tuesday, Korean-American Chloe Kim posted a typical teenage Tweet.
“Wish I finished my breakfast sandwich but my stubborn self decided not to and now I’m getting hangry,” Kim wrote.
It was not the kind of social media activity one would expect from a snowboarder about to take their second run in an Olympic final but then Kim is no ordinary teenager.
The 17-year-old closed out the final with a near perfect run to score 98.25 and win the gold medal before telling reporters she had been on Twitter to help her relax and that she was craving a burger or a Hawaiian pizza.
“Social media has been crazy recently,” Kim said.
“I came here on Instagram with 164,000 and now I have like 300,000 and something, which is insane.
Kim, whose parents hail from South Korea and whose grandmother watched her compete for the first time in Pyeongchang, said her profile had exploded since she arrived at the Olympics.
“My mum is always like ‘post a picture of me, so I can get more followers, comment on my follow, like it’,” laughed Kim, looking at her mother at the back of the room.
“There is definitely a lot happening and I did feel a little overwhelmed but I am trying to take in the whole experience.”
Kim’s extraordinary runs were greeted by huge cheers from the crowd, comfortably the biggest at Phoenix Snow Park during the Games.
Because of her Korean heritage, Kim has attracted swathes of support from local fans and is greeted by cheers and requests for selfies everywhere she goes.
“Chloe Kim is a hero for both America and Korea,” said Korean fan Kim Ji-a who had an American flag draped across her shoulders.
“I wish my name was Chloe Kim, not Ji-woo Kim,” said another young Korean supporter at the bottom of the halfpipe run.
Korean and American fans celebrated together as Kim laid down her spectacular array of tricks.
Dylan, an American from Utah who is at the games to support Kim, believes the teenager is the best snowboarder in the world.
“She is better than Shaun White,” Dylan said. “She is doing things for the sport that people thought women could never do. She is amazing and so young.”
Kim, whose face has been splashed across magazine covers in the United States and South Korea, has had to deal with unprecedented expectations.
She delivered when it mattered most and all on an empty stomach. (Reporting by Jack Tarrant, editing by Ed Osmond)