Sunday, June 11

Snowboarding Olympian Chloe Kim takes mental health break after ‘draining’ year

Two-time Olympic gold medalist Chloe Kim announced she’s taking a break from the 2022-23 season to focus on her mental health.

The break comes after a stunning run for the 22-year-old star snowboarder. Kim became the youngest woman to win snowboarding gold in the 2018 Winter Olympics at the age of 17 and defended her title at the 2022 Beijing Games.

Kim told online news service Cheddar News the decision was “just for my mental health.”

“(I) just want to kind of reset. I don’t want to get right back into it after such a fun, but draining year, at the same time, knowing that it was an Olympic year,” she said.

But she won’t be gone for long, and said she’ll chase gold once again at the 2026 Winter Olympics in Milan-Cortina, Italy.

“I just want to enjoy this moment, take it all in and then back to it when I’m feeling ready, but as of now the plan is most definitely to go after a third medal,” she said.

Kim noted that she’s been snowboarding since she was four and the pressure from competing at such a high level can be overwhelming.

“I think that a lot of the pressure I feel is mostly from myself and pressure that I put on myself as a professional athlete and also as somebody who genuinely loves what they do,” Kim told Cheddar News. “I can’t help but have high expectations for myself. I want to be the best snowboarder that I can possibly be and if I can’t do it, it’s frustrating, like I can’t stand it.”

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Kim has been very candid about her mental health.

After her performance in the halfpipe event at the 2022 Beijing Games in February, Kim told NBC’s Randy Moss: “I was dealing with all sorts of emotions, self-doubt.”

“But when I was getting ready to drop into my first run, I just reminded myself that it’s a brand new run.”

“I feel like I’m in such a better place now mentally and physically, as well,” Kim said in Beijing after her first-place qualifying run.

Kim also took a break after the 2018 games and attended Princeton University, a move she previously told NBC’s “TODAY” gave her “a good reset.”

Other high-profile athletes have also taken time away from the spotlight to focus on their mental health, including Simone Biles and Naomi Osaka.

Japanese tennis superstar Osaka stepped away from the French Open and Wimbledon in 2021 for her mental well-being.

“I do hope that people can relate and understand it’s OK to not be OK; and it’s OK to talk about it. There are people that can help, and there is usually light at the end of any tunnel,” Osaka wrote in a TIME Magazine essay in July. “Michael Phelps told me that by speaking up, I may have saved a life. If that’s true, then it was all worth it.”

At the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Biles, the face of US’ gymnastics team, withdrew from competition citing mental health concerns.

“We also have to focus on ourselves, because at the end of the day, we’re human, too,” Biles said, according to The Associated Press. “We have to protect our mind and our body, rather than just go out there and do what the world wants us to do.”

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