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:
GUARANTEED GOLD ‼️
Chloe Kim DOMINATES her first run with a score of 94 🔥
— On Her Turf (@OnHerTurf) February 10, 2022
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.
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:
"That was the best I've done it." 🥺
— On Her Turf (@OnHerTurf) February 10, 2022
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.
On Chloe Kim going for the first 1260 in a women's snowboard halfpipe competition: Shaun White won the 2006 Olympics with back-to-back 1080s (in 18-foot pipe; 22 feet ever since). Kim won 2018 Olympics with back-to-back 1080s. First 1260 in Olympic men's competition was 2010.
— Nick Zaccardi (@nzaccardi) February 10, 2022
Women’s Snowboard Halfpipe at the 2022 Olympics – Final Results:
- Chloe Kim (USA), 94.00
- Queralt Castellet (ESP), 90.25
- Tomita Sena (JPN), 88.25
- Cai Xuetong (CHN), 81.25
- Tomita Ruki (JPN), 80.50
- Elizabeth Hosking (CAN), 79.25
- Berenice Wicki (SUI), 76.25
- Liu Jiayu (CHN), 73.50
- Ono Mitsuki (JPN), 71.50
- Brooke Dhondt (CAN), 66.75
- Leilani Ettel (GER), 57.50
- Qui Leng (CHN), 53.75
On Her Turf editor Alex Azzi contributed to this report.