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PYEONGCHANG, South Korea – American Chloe Kim, the wunderkind halfpipe snowboarder who has been the dominant figure in her sport as a teenager, blighted her competition on the way to Olympic gold Tuesday morning at Phoenix Snow Park.
The 17-year-old Kim, whose parents moved to the United States from South Korea before she was born, scored a 93.75 on her first run, which was good enough to place her at the top of podium. She topped it on her final run with a 98.25. China’s Jiayu Liu won silver with a second run of 89.75, while American Arielle Gold took bronze with a final-run score of 85.75.
“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,” Kim said. “So that third run was really just to prove to myself that I deserved it and did everything I could. I’m so happy.”
Kim qualified for the Sochi Games and would have been the favorite if not for one problem: At 13, she was too young to participate. Neither her age nor her skills were an issue at the PyeongChang Games, where she entered as the heavy favorite and met the lofty expectations.
“I try not to feel pressure because that kind of throws you off,” she said. “But when it does kind of creep into the back of my mind, I try to see it in a positive way, like, these people that are expecting all of this out of me do that because they know I can do it and they believe in me.”
She clearly wasn’t nervous between her second and third runs in Tuesday’s final:
In front of relatives who still live in Korea, Kim rode superior amplitude and impeccable style to the United States’ third gold medal in three snowboarding events after Red Gerard and Jamie Anderson won the slopestyle contests. The U.S. could find itself with a freestyle snowboarding sweep should two-time gold medalist Shaun White win his third in the men’s halfpipe Wednesday morning.
“I need to go home and process everything, and I’ll probably bawl my eyes out some more,” Kim said. “This has been a dream of mine since I was a little girl, so just to be here and to be able to do it when it mattered feels amazing.”
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