2018 Winter Olympics Hopeful
This Piedmont native is a pro on the ice and in the classroom.
by Leah Adams
Nineteen-year-old Kevin Shum is a phenom on the ice and in the classroom—the only thing more impressive than his accomplishments is his striking humility. Here, the Piedmont native discusses his love for ice-skating, the 2018 Winter Olympics, and how he manages to get his homework done on time.
Q: You’ve won two U.S. Junior Figure Skating National Championship silver medals and have competed internationally. What did it take to get there?
A: I had to sacrifice a lot of leisure time growing up. Most of my training took place after school and on weekends; it was school, skating rink, home, repeat. It was hard sometimes not being able to go out with my friends. But [I’ve had] the chance to travel to so many places. Meeting all the people I’ve met, pursuing something I really enjoy … I missed out on certain things, but I think I’ve gained even more.
Q: You started skating when you were six years old. When did you know it was more than just a hobby?
A: I was competing in the [2008 U.S. Junior Figure Skating Championships] in Salt Lake City. I was 10 years old. I skated my program and then sat in the stands talking to my friends. At the end of the competition, one of my friends said, “You know you’re in first, right?” I couldn’t really process what had happened. I was like, “Did I really just win?” That was when I realized this was something I could pursue.
Q: In addition to skating, you study computer science at MIT. How do you balance everything?
A: It’s a huge challenge—I only have 24 hours, and I need a chunk of them for sleeping! I prioritize what’s most urgent. If a competition is coming up, I spend more time on training; when finals and midterms are close, I focus on studying.
Q: You’re training to qualify for the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. How excited are you?
A: I think people around me are more excited about it than I am. I don’t think about it too much; for now, I’m focused on training and trying to improve. kevinshum.com.