Palos Verdes Snowboarder Bea Kim Is on the Fast Track for Competitive Glory

More than a pipe dream.

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  • Written & photographed by
    Kat Monk

Bea Kim wears a watch with a wood face and Roman numerals. Today many kids don’t know how to read time without digital numbers, but when asked she smiles, pauses and correctly states the time. Aptitude runs deep in Bea’s character. At 13 she is a driven and dedicated athlete with a goal of being a 2026 Winter Olympian.

Five years ago, Bea entered the JLA Banked Slalom at Mammoth Mountain and won her first snowboarding bronze medal. She describes this as the moment she became “hooked.” The following year her family bought a condo in Mammoth so she could join the Mammoth Mountain Ski & Snowboard Team (MMSST).

“I had no idea what I was doing,” she says of her early days in the sport. But just a few years after her initial outing, she now rides with the Elite team—the highest level of competitive snowboard training that Mammoth has to offer. “Bea has the attitude and work ethic that will take her far in this sport,” says Ben Wiser, director of the MMSST.

In 2018 Bea’s family gave her an opportunity of a lifetime. She took two weeks off school and traveled to the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea. This amazing experience gave her the opportunity to see all her snowboarding idols compete at the highest level—a game changer for a young, impressionable snowboarder.

Homeschooled to accommodate her schedule, Bea trains in Mammoth every Wednesday through Sunday from November to June. Her family comes back to the South Bay on Sunday and Monday for doctor’s appointments and other events, then heads back to Mammoth on Tuesday. In August she travels to wintery New Zealand for an additional month of snowboard training before heading to Austria for another two weeks of training at a snowboarding camp.

While she still competes in boardercross and alpine events, including slalom and giant slalom, she loves the freestyle events of half-pipe and slopestyle. In fact, most of her successes thus far have come from half-pipe. In 2019 Bea won the Menehune age division (10- and 11-year-olds) at the United States of America Snowboard and Freeski Association Nationals at Copper Mountain, Colorado.

Adds Ben on the teen’s future in the sport: “Definitely the one to keep an eye out for is Bea.”