South Korean snowboarder Gaon Choi recently became the youngest Women’s Snowboard SuperPipe gold medalist after winning the halfpipe event at the 2023 Aspen Winter X Games in Colorado on Saturday.
Choi is six months younger than Chloe Kim, who was 14 years and 8 months old when she won gold during the Aspen games in 2015.
“I began snowboarding because of Chloe and now almost being near her level when she was 14, it feels weird that I can see a possibility that I would go beyond her someday,” Choi told reporters. “I am already starting to look forward to the next Olympics.”
Choi has also made history in South Korea by becoming the country’s first Winter X Games medalist.
During her run, which was judged by overall impression, Choi managed to perform three 900s in the third of her four runs: a switch backside 900 Weddle, a frontside 900 and a backside 900 with a missed grab.
While Kim, a 2018 Olympic gold medalist, is the only female athlete to land back-to-back 1080s in a contest, Choi has managed to perform the difficult trick twice in her games — although not back-to-back, like Kim.
“I am so happy, I am so glad my efforts [paid off] with a big win like this,” Choi told Forbes. “I expected that I could successfully manage a 1080, and I am happy I succeeded.”
A winner of the 2022 World Junior Snowboarding Championships, Choi was reportedly undefeated across four amateur-level halfpipe events she participated in the 2022 International Ski and Snowboard Federation Revolution Tour.
Kim and Choi have known each other since way before the 2023 Aspen Winter X Games.
The Korean American snowboarder first met Choi in Pyeongchang, South Korea, in 2017 when Kim was competing in the 2017 Olympic test event. She and her father reportedly helped Choi get to the United States to continue her training in the sport.
Posting on her Instagram Story after Choi’s history-making gold medal win, Kim, who is taking this season off after defending her Olympics title in February 2022, reportedly wrote, “I feel like a proud Mom. The future of snowboarding’s in good hands.”
Kim, 22, is hoping to return to competing at the 2026 Milan-Cortina Winter Games. Meanwhile, Choi is training for her next run at the Mountain Dew Tour 2023, which begins in late February.