Olympian Chloe Kim has some sage advice: Churros calm the nerves.
“Oh and I also had 2 churros today and they were pretty bomb so if you ever get nervous go eat a churro,” the 17-year-old tweeted on Sunday, two days before she dominated her way to a gold medal in the women’s snowboarding halfpipe competition.
Kim is a four-time X Games champion, speaks three languages and attracted numerous sponsors for the PyeongChang Games — but she has risen to Internet fame in the last few days for simultaneously seeming human and superhuman.
The youngest gold medalist in the halfpipe event, she might also be the only one to talk publicly about wanting ice cream mid-competition. She earned her near-perfect score of 98.25 while “hangry,” as she tweeted while waiting for that momentous third run Tuesday.
Teenagers nowadays often receive criticism for their supposed laziness and tech obsession, but the Olympics ask us to set aside our differences — and that includes generational conflict. Kim’s bubbly personality and social media savvy endear her to viewers of any age. She’s our Gen-Z hero.
She’s not alone. Kim’s fellow 17-year-old U.S. snowboarder Red Gerard has also become popular on social media — in part because he charmingly fits into teen stereotypes. On Sunday morning, he earned the United States its first gold medal at the 2018 Winter Olympics after oversleeping, according to Yahoo News, having “zonked out” the previous night while watching “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.” After his roommate, Kyle Mack, prodded him out of bed, Gerard grabbed an egg sandwich, borrowed Mack’s jacket when he couldn’t find his own and raced off to the hill.
He then became the youngest American man to win a gold medal at the Winter Olympics in 80 years, and the first born in the 2000s to do so. His reaction? “Holy f—!”
These two breakfast-sandwich-loving teenagers captivate Americans in part because of their youth. SB Nation writer Charlotte Wilder tweeted, “We should rethink the age restrictions on the presidency because if Chloe Kim and Red Gerard ran on a ticket together I’d vote for them tomorrow.” The Cut deemed the pair “Cool Teens,” and one Twitter user looked to Kim’s social media presence for personal motivation: “if chloe kim can tweet about ice cream while casually doing 90+ olympic runs I can go to work tomorrow.”
Kim and Gerard aren’t the only young Winter Olympians to ever be the center of media attention — the recently released “I, Tonya” serves as proof — and they might not even be the most interesting talkers this year. (Adam Rippon, the 28-year-old American figure skater notable for his entertaining interviews, gets that prize.) But they are some of the first to have grown up in the era of reality TV, and their personalities shine.
Gerard, more low-key in his response to Olympic success, told reporters that he is just beginning to understand how huge the Games are. After being asked what he’ll do once he receives his gold medal, he deadpanned: “Look at it for quite some time? I don’t know.”
But when Kim is on, she’s on. She continued to discuss her constant hunger after her victory, tweeting about her love of cookies-and-cream ice cream. Her charisma is immediately evident, as it was when she told reporters that she’d advise aspiring Olympians younger than herself to “do whatever you want,” and she has even charmed South Korean publications, which have embraced the Korean American athlete like one of their own.
“I think I was so fortunate to find my passion and the thing that brought me so much joy at such a young age,” she said. “I think, you know, if you’re young — even if you’re old, it doesn’t matter how old you are — but if you find something that you really want to try, just give it a try. You’re never going to know. The one thing I learned is, just give everything a shot. You don’t want to live in regret.”