Chloe Kim Takes Home the Gold in Women’s Halfpipe

While most 17-year-olds were in bed getting some needed rest before they headed to high school the next morning, halfway across the globe Chloe Kim was earning the United States its  third gold medal of the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang. The 17-year-old dominated the women’s halfpipe snowboard event, scoring a 98.25 in her third run to easily win the event over China’s Liu Jiayu and fellow American Arielle Gold.

Kim set a high bar for the rest of the competitors in her first jump, nailing a series of impressive aerial tricks, including a backside air, a cab 720, a frontside 900, and a McTwist. That earned her a 93.75, which became the standard that no other competitor would come close to matching – except Kim herself.

The American had already won the competition by the time her third run came around, but Kim went for broke, nailing back-to-back 1080s in an aerial show that was by far the most technically solid performance in the event. That earned her a score of 98.25, easily the best of the day.

After the event, the gold medal winner explained that, even though she knew she had the gold sewn up, she was going for broke. “I was like tearing up and wanted to cry, but I just knew I wasn’t going to be happy, even if I went home with the gold, if I knew I could do better,”

Chloe Kim has long been viewed as a rising star in the sport, drawing a great deal of attention four years ago, but she was not eligible to compete in the 2014 Sochi games because of her age. Since then, she has won a series of national and international competitions leading up to the PyeongChang games.

While confident in her abilities, the American admitted that the wait took its toll on her emotionally. “There is a lot of pressure revolving around these games. You wait for four years to come here and it’s definitely a lot of hype around a 1-1/2, 2-hour time period. It’s pretty nerve-wracking.”

Kim’s story has been one of the most widely told leading up to the games, primarily because this is a homecoming of sorts for her family. The Californian’s parents came to the United States from South Korea, and it was quite epic that she would return to the nation her parents grew up in to compete in her first Olympics. The story has helped to make her a star in both countries.

The closest competitor to Kim was China’s Liu Jiayu, who won the silver medal with a top run of 89.75. American Arielle Gold finished in third with her best score of 85.75. Gold’s finish was the most dramatic of the competition, as the 21-year-old separated her shoulder on her second run, yet managed to deliver her best score of the competition on her third attempt.

One other competitor from the United States finished in the top five. That was Kelly Clark, who finished fourth with a score of 83.50.

With a gold and a bronze, the medal total for the United States moves to six (3 gold, a silver, 2 bronze). Norway still leads the games with 11 total medals and Germany has the most gold with five.