Mission life: THE KUKMIN DAILY

Korean Alpine Skiing Team Member Kim So-hee’s Faith in God

2014-02-05 09:42

The 2-km-long, snow-covered slope slants at an average 15-degree angle, and the downhill speed is 90-140 km/hour. One is always exposed to the danger of accidents. Every time she skis, Kim So-hee (18) folds her hands and prays.

“God, please hold on to my arms and legs.”

Kim is a rising Korean star in alpine skiing. She is taking part in the Sochi Winter Olympic Games in Russia, which begin on February 7 local time, as a member of the Korean national team for the alpine combined, downhill, giant slalom, slalom and super-G events.

Kim is a sophomore at Sangji Daegwallyeong High School in Pyeongchang-gun, Gangwon-do. In 2011, as a middle schooler, she won three gold medals in alpine skiing events at the 92nd National Sports Competition. In 2012 she won every event in women’s alpine skiing. Last year she won three gold medals, and finally in July, she made the national team.

Kim said that prayer is most helpful in making her mind peaceful ahead of games. In a phone interview with Kukmin Daily the day before she flew to Sochi on February 1, she said, “Alpine skiing is an individual event, so the results depend greatly on the athlete's psychological condition. Therefore, dealing with stress before the games is crucial.” She explained, “I was a 6th grader in elementary school when I first entered an international competition. For the 40 days before the competition, I went to early morning prayers. My mind became very peaceful, and I became brave. Since then, I always pray before games.”

The person who discovered Kim to be an athlete was her grandmother, Rev. Jang Jin-seon. During a time when her father’s business was not going well, Kim lived with her grandmother in Pyeongchang. Her grandmother was a ski tutor and recognized her talent for skiing. Rev. Jang said, “She hardly ever fell down, and she picked up the skills quickly. So I recommended that she become an athlete.” All the skiing gear was too expensive, however, and it was very difficult to pay for the off-season training as well. Rev. Jang said, “Every time we thought of giving up, God provided scholarships and other financial support, all the way along. I think So-hee’s best asset is God and her God-given talent. This time I can't join her at the Olympic Games, but I will cheer her on from here in Korea, together with all of our church members.”

Rev. Jang planted the Olympic Full Gospel Church in Pyeongchang back in 2009. Her sports mission is to spread the Gospel to her students while tutoring them in skiing. Kim has also helped Rev. Jang tutor skiers whenever she has time.

Kim said, “Since these are my first Olympic Games, I’d rather learn how to enjoy the big stage, without focusing on the medals. And I hope to build up my career step by step, so that someday I can challenge myself to become a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and tour around the world to spread the Gospel through sports.”

Reporter Lee Saya (Isaiah@kmib.co.kr), Yeara Ahn-Park (yap@kmib.co.kr)

Click here for the original article in Korean

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