Chloe Kim defends halfpipe gold at 2022 Winter Olympics

Chloe Kim reacts to winning halfpipe gold at the 2022 Winter Olympics
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If there was any question as to what it meant to U.S. snowboarder Chloe Kim to defend her gold medal in the Olympic women’s halfpipe, she let it be known Thursday in Beijing, bursting into tears of joy and relief following a monster first run at the 2022 Winter Olympics.

Not only did Kim successfully defend her 2018 Olympic title at Genting Resort Secret Garden, but she also became the first woman to win two gold medals in women’s halfpipe, an event that debuted in 1998. The 21-year-old from Southern California clinched gold with a massive score of 94.00 that included a 900 and two 1080s.

Her first words at the bottom of the pipe were, “Worst practice of my life,” and she admitted to NBC Olympics reporter Randy Moss afterward that she was feeling the pressure.

“I’m not gonna lie – I had probably one of the worst practices I’ve ever had, which does not put you in a good place mentally, especially out here,” she said. “I was dealing with all sorts of emotions, self-doubt, but when I was getting ready to drop into my first run, I just reminded myself it’s a brand-new run.”

Video of Chloe Kim’s winning run in the Olympic women’s snowboard halfpipe final:

Kim was overheard talking with coach Rick Bower at the top of the pipe after her first run and said to him almost quizzically, “I fell twice (in practice).”

“But you landed it four times,” he replied.

Enough said.

That was all Kim needed to hear as she hit the gas on her last two runs, attempting a 1260 during her second run, but she sat down just as she was landing. She tried it again on her third run – a victory lap – but fell again.

No woman has ever landed the trick in women’s competition, but pushing the progression was important to Kim, especially with the title in the bag.

“It’s so important and honestly, the first run I was like, I’m just going to put down my safety run and then I’ll get two attempts at landing the cab 12,” said Kim, who revealed she landed the 1260 once during practice in Beijing. “It’s a very new trick so I’m really looking forward to being able to land it, maybe at the next (Olympics).”

Earlier this week, Bower told NBC Sports’ Nick Zaccardi that Kim learned two new tricks that no woman has ever landed in a halfpipe competition in the last nine months.

Video of Chloe Kim’s reaction after her first Olympic halfpipe run:

Spain’s Queralt Castellet, making her fifth Olympics appearance, won silver with a strong second run and recorded a 90.25. The 32-year-old Castellet is Spain’s first female medalist at the Winter Olympics since alpine skier Blanca Fernandez Ochoa won bronze in the women’s slalom in 1992.

Japan’s Tomita Sena clinched bronze with an 88.25 in her second run and was one of only four other riders in the 12-woman field to land 1080s in the final. Also throwing the trick were Canada’s Elizabeth Hosking (sixth), Japan’s Ono Mitsuki (ninth) and China’s Qiu Len (12th).

Kim entered the 2022 Beijing Winter Games as the favorite for gold. After the 2018 Winter Olympics, she stepped back from competition for 22 months and completed her freshman year at Princeton.

But the break did nothing to hinder her performance: Kim has won every halfpipe event in which she’s competed since PyeongChang. She stands as the first and only snowboarder to win titles at all four “majors,” including two Winter Olympics, two World Championship titles, six X Games gold medals and the 2016 Winter Youth Olympic Games. In World Cup competition, Kim has two crystal globes and 10 wins in 14 World Cup starts.

Faced with the prospect of being twice as famous after her second gold, Kim said she’s much better prepared for the hoopla to come.

“I’m in a much better headspace,” she said. “I have a much better idea of what to expect and I’m so eager to see my loved ones – my family, my dog, my boyfriend – so I think that will keep me happy and I’m just going to feel all the feelings.”

With her result in Beijing, Kim continues a U.S. trend in this event: U.S. women have won the last four gold medals in women’s snowboard halfpipe and have collected 10 out of 18 medals available since snowboarding made its debut in 1998 in Nagano.

Women’s Snowboard Halfpipe at the 2022 Olympics – Final Results:

  1. Chloe Kim (USA), 94.00
  2. Queralt Castellet (ESP), 90.25
  3. Tomita Sena (JPN), 88.25
  4. Cai Xuetong (CHN), 81.25
  5. Tomita Ruki (JPN), 80.50
  6. Elizabeth Hosking (CAN), 79.25
  7. Berenice Wicki (SUI), 76.25
  8. Liu Jiayu (CHN), 73.50
  9. Ono Mitsuki (JPN), 71.50
  10. Brooke Dhondt (CAN), 66.75
  11. Leilani Ettel (GER), 57.50
  12. Qui Leng (CHN), 53.75

On Her Turf editor Alex Azzi contributed to this report. 

MORE WINTER OLYMPICS COVERAGE: For Jessie Diggins, there is joy in working hard, not just winning medals

Crystal Dunn returns to USWNT roster five months after giving birth

Nigeria v USWNT
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Crystal Dunn was named to the USWNT roster for two upcoming friendlies against England and Spain, marking her first official selection since giving birth to son Marcel in May.

Dunn made her NWSL return with the Portland Thorns earlier this month and also trained with the U.S. team as a non-rostered player ahead of friendlies vs. Nigeria.

In addition to Dunn, the 24-player roster features a veteran core of Alyssa Naeher, Becky Sauerbrunn, Rose Lavelle, Lindsey Horan, Mallory Pugh, and Megan Rapinoe.

Alex Morgan was not named to the USWNT roster due to a knee injury. While U.S. head coach Vlatko Andonovski did not provide details of the injury, he noted that “if this was a World Cup final, Alex was going to be on this trip and was going to play, no question.”

Other roster highlights include 17-year-old Alyssa Thompson, who becomes the first player born in 2004 to receive a USWNT call-up. Thomas, a high senior, plays club soccer for the U-17 Total Futbol Academy boys’ team.

“We are very excited for her, very excited about her potential and qualities and looking forward to seeing how she will turn out in our environment,” Andonovski said of Thompson. “This camp is not make it or break it. It’s a first experience for her, it’s just something that she shouldn’t even worry about.”

The USWNT also includes a handful of players who have made their USWNT breakthrough this season — thanks in part to both strong NWSL play and injuries to more veteran players. That list includes the likes of Naomi Girma (7 caps), Taylor Kornieck (5 caps), Hailie Mace (5 caps), Sam Coffey (1 cap), and Savannah DeMelo (0 caps).

Andonovski on Thursday called Coffey, a midfielder for the Portland Thorns, a candidate for NWSL MVP.

USWNT Roster for October 2022 Friendlies vs. England and Spain

Goalkeepers (3):

  • Aubrey Kingsbury (Washington Spirit)
  • Casey Murphy (North Carolina Courage)
  • Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars)


  • Alana Cook (OL Reign)
  • Crystal Dunn (Portland Thorns FC)
  • Emily Fox (Racing Louisville FC)
  • Naomi Girma (San Diego Wave FC)
  • Sofia Huerta (OL Reign)
  • Hailie Mace (Kansas City Current)
  • Becky Sauerbrunn (Portland Thorns FC)

Midfielders (8):

  • Sam Coffey (Portland Thorns FC)
  • Savannah DeMelo (Racing Louisville FC)
  • Lindsey Horan (Olympique Lyon, FRA)
  • Taylor Kornieck (San Diego Wave FC)
  • Rose Lavelle (OL Reign)
  • Kristie Mewis (NJ/NY Gotham FC)
  • Ashley Sanchez (Washington Spirit)
  • Andi Sullivan (Washington Spirit)

Forwards (6):

  • Ashley Hatch (Washington Spirit)
  • Mallory Pugh (Chicago Red Stars)
  • Megan Rapinoe (OL Reign)
  • Trinity Rodman (Washington Spirit)
  • Sophia Smith (Portland Thorns FC)
  • Alyssa Thompson (Total Futbol Academy)

Follow Alex Azzi on Twitter @AlexAzziNBC

Justine Wong-Orantes’ atypical path to becoming one of the best liberos in the world

Justine Wong-Orantes hits the ball in the women's semi-final volleyball match between USA and Serbia during the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
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It’s been 20 years since the same nation held both the Olympic and world volleyball titles at the same time, but libero Justine Wong-Orantes is looking to help lead Team USA accomplish that very feat at the 2022 FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championships in the Netherlands and Poland. Competition began on Friday and the U.S. is currently 2-0 after group play wins against Kazakhstan and Canada.

“We’re trying to win, for sure,” Wong-Orantes told On Her Turf. “I think, especially with the new turn of the program and the new year of the quad, we just have a really nice blend of veterans and also newcomers on the team.”

The 14-woman roster for Team USA, which is ranked No. 1 in the world and won its first Olympic title last summer, features six players from that gold-medal-winning team. And while Wong-Orantes is among the 2021 U.S. Olympic team veterans, she’s still a relative newcomer to international play.

The Southern California native enjoyed a notable junior career – she was 12 when she became the youngest female to ever earn an AAA rating in beach volleyball – and was a standout collegian at Nebraska, where she was a member of the 2015 NCAA championship team. But Wong-Orantes followed a different path upon graduation, initially choosing not to go overseas to play professionally.

While she was first selected for the U.S. national team in 2016 and played a handful of international tournaments in the following years, it wasn’t until she started playing professionally in Germany in 2019 that she saw the potential to elevate her position on the roster. In particular, the pandemic-delayed Tokyo Olympics gave her an additional year of overseas experience, which she calls “a blessing in disguise.”

“I just felt like I was still in that developmental stage,” she said. “And a whole year postponement allowed me to go overseas and really get all the touches, all the repetitions, and just kind of expose myself to international volleyball another year. So I was, in hindsight, pretty thankful for that COVID season because I got an extra year under my belt, and I think that just gave me a ton of confidence.”

Ahead of the Olympics, Wong-Orantes earned “best libero” honors at the 2021 FIVB Volleyball National League in Rimini, Italy, which helped secure her spot on the Olympic roster. In Tokyo, she followed up with another standout performance and was named best libero of the Olympic tournament.

As to how the Wong-Orantes transformed into one of the world’s top liberos, she points to her background as a beach volleyball player. She began competing at age 8, and her first partner was Sara Hughes, a star on the AVP Pro Tour who also won two NCAA titles with USC.

“I think having that background and just the court awareness that beach volleyball forces you to have allowed me to really have a good read on the game,” said Wong-Orantes. “I think that’s what makes a great libero is just reading and always being reactive towards the ball.”

Wong-Orantes also credits the assistance of mental coach Sue Enquist, a former UCLA softball coach and U.S. national team coach, who now helps teams work on their culture and relationships. Enquist began working with the U.S. volleyball team during the pandemic and has continued in her role ever since.

“We just worked on a lot of stuff within ourselves, within our program, how to communicate with each other off the court, and I think that honestly propelled us into such a high, high level with how we worked with each other, and then that transferred onto the court,” explained Wong-Orantes, who noted the team has Enquist on speed dial while at the World Championship. “I really commend Sue. I just really give a lot of praise to her because I think our culture was never bad, but I think [she] just transformed into a different level.”

2022-09-26 - FIVB Volleyball Womens World Championship 2022 - Day 4
ARNHEM, NETHERLANDS – Justine Wong-Orantes (far right) poses for a photo with her U.S. teammates after defeating Canada at the 2022 FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship on September 26, 2022. (Photo by Rene Nijhuis/Orange Pictures/BSR Agency/Getty Images)

Wong-Orantes said she and her U.S. teammates are on their toes for the world championships, which features twice as many teams (24) as the Olympics and a “more grueling” format.

“It’s going to be a long tournament, and I think we’re really going to need all 14 of us that are here. I’m pretty certain that, at any given moment, someone’s going to be called on and someone’s going to need to step up in big moments.”