April 20, 2018

Overachievers In Every Sense

Nina Robins ‘19

During the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, most 17-year-olds in the United States were either completely oblivious to the athletic competitions or gaped at them lazilly through television sets. For two of these teenagers, however, the Olympics experience was particularly riveting. Not only did Red Gerard and Chloe Kim qualify for the US Olympics snowboarding teams – Gerard with slopestyle, Kim with halfpipe – at astonishingly young ages, but they won some of the earliest gold medals of the event.
Gerard, a Colorado resident, faced grim prospects for victory and even questionable chances of reaching the podium during his routine. However, he performed an amazing third trial, landing three consecutive complicated flips and introducing a degree of grace and style to his run that was reinforced by his clean finishes. An impressive score elevated Gerard from last place to gold standing.
Despite his almost flawless finish, Gerard’s glorious day had an eventful start. Missing an alarm after falling asleep during a Netflix binge, Gerard was unable to locate his jacket as he scrambled to prepare for his event, eventually having to borrow from his roommate. Any stress that may have lingered after these momentarily disastrous events seems to have evaporated on the slopes.
Gerard captivated millions of Americans with his unaffected, personable nature once his story became public. His popularity reached its height when, in a rush of excitement, he cursed loudly on live television before broadcasting networks could sensor him. This reasonable blunder did not tarnish Gerard’s reputation at all, however - it only made him more appealing to global, and especially American, audiences.
Although Kim did not audibly yell an expletive when she won gold, her popularity is still substantial, on account of her skill on the slopes and immigrant ancestry. Kim learned how to snowboard as a toddler in Southern California from her father, an immigrant from South Korea.
The inspiring dedication of Kim’s parents to her snowboarding pursuits was evident from their enthusiasm on the sidelines as she raced through the course, demolishing her competitors’ scores by wide margins. During an interview following Kim’s victory, her father proudly referred to Kim as his “American dream.”
Kim’s place on the podium was not as jeopardized as Gerard’s and her races were not as suspenseful, as she entered the competition as the clear favorite and gained an easy lead early on. However, although Kim solidified the gold before her third trial, she challenged herself to improve her own score. Like Gerard, Kim’s near perfect third trial, in which she performed two 1080-degree flips, earned her the most points.
Despite her high standards, Kim also appeared incredibly collected on the slopes. She felt playful enough to tweet shortly before her race that she felt “hangry” as a result of not eating enough for breakfast.

While Gerard and Kim seemed superhuman for their athletic capabilities, audiences appreciated that even Olympians, just like any other 17-year-olds, can oversleep, misplace their equipment, feel hungry before an event, or display unfiltered excitement in times of pride.

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