Big air, bright lights: Youth rises to gold in Women’s Snowboard Superpipe
The Aspen Times
ASPEN — Now, back to high school.
Chloe Kim, who won Winter X Games gold in the Women’s Snowboard Superpipe on Saturday night at Buttermilk, will celebrate by going back to high school.
No after-party at the Belly Up for this freshman.
Kim, at 14, became the youngest gold medalist in Winter X Games history with her dramatic final run and a comeback victory over the most successful snowboarder in history – 31-year-old Kelly Clark.
The legendary Clark took the lead in the halfpipe finals with a first-run score of 90.00 in front of the Chromeo-inspired crowd at Buttermilk.
Clark appeared on track for her sixth consecutive win in the Women’s Snowboard Superpipe at Aspen Winter X.
But the rider considered the future of the sport put down a crowd-stunning final run that may have marked the changing of the guard in women’s superpipe.
Kim was rewarded with a score of 92.00 to take the lead with only Clark remaining to ride.
Clark, who has been competing in the Winter X Games longer than Kim has been alive, attacked the halfpipe on her last pass, putting together what appeared to be another gold-medal run.
Until she ran out of halfpipe.
Clark ran out of expensive Aspen real estate and crashed on her last trick, landing on the fringe of the deck and slipping to the bottom.
A veteran rider from West Dover, Vermont, Clark still managed another record. Winning silver, she tied Shaun White for the most halfpipe medals in Winter X Games history.
With 73 wins, she was denied No. 74 by a historic run from a high school snowboarder, who took a spectacular fall in a practice run right before the competition Saturday night.
Kim chipped a tooth, bloodied her lip and scratched her cheek.
But she didn’t damage her golden smile.
“I decked really hard,” Kim said of her crash on the deck that sent her tumbling, face-first, into the halfpipe. “I got a pretty good ice burn.”
The 14-year-old said the crash scared her.
“Going into my first run, my legs were shaking,” Km said. “I was amazed I was able to land all that.”
The bronze medal Saturday night went to decorated Australian Torah Bright.
Steamboat Springs native and current Breckenridge resident Arielle Gold finished fourth.
Kim long has looked up to Clark as a role model and a snowboarding model.
A four-time Olympian, Clark made history in Sochi, Russia, with a bronze medal, becoming the first rider to win three Olympic medals in the halfpipe.
Kim, then 13, was too young to compete in the Olympics.
Clark, with 13 X Games medals, also set a record for the highest amplitude out of the halfpipe in the women’s event. She rose 16 feet, 11 inches out of the pipe.
“I think all the women rode really well tonight,” said Clark, who added that all three medalists offered significantly different styles for the judges to consider.
And watching her protégé rise to the top?
“For me, it’s inspiring,” Clark said.
Kim, for her part, will only be back at high school for a short time before she jets off for the European Snowboarding Championships.
And, she said, she plans on some shopping in Los Angeles to celebrate Winter X gold.
Canadian Ryan Simons won gold as Snowmobile Hillcross returned to the Winter X program in Aspen this year.
Simons, 32, went through the elimination heats and won the final with an immediate break from the starting line.
He held on for gold, his third Winter X medal.
Justin Thomas of Idaho Falls, Idaho, won the silver medal.
Bronze went to Nathan Titus, age 41, a snowmobiler from McCall, Idaho.
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