Blythe Hastings ’23
Chloe Kim has taken the world by storm. The 21-year-old American snowboarder soared to her second straight Olympic gold medal in the halfpipe at the 2022 Beijing Games on Thursday, further cementing her champion status. Kim all but ensured a gold medal on the first of three runs. She scored 94 points to take the lead in the field of 12, and no one caught up.
Kim’s first run included a 1080, a switch 900, a switch backside 540 and another 1080. She appeared thrilled at the end and said as the camera lingered: “Oh, my God. I had the worst practice of my life.” Back at the top of the slope, she wiped away tears as she was congratulated and said “I, like, was just overflowed with emotion.” On her second and third runs and with the lead in the best-of-three, Kim tried to go big with a 1260 but fell both times. Spain’s Queralt Castellet came in second to win silver, and Japan’s Sena Tomita won bronze. Kim said later that she’d had a bad practice, which can affect an athlete mentally.
“I was dealing with all sorts of emotions, self-doubt,” she told reporters after the event. “But when I was getting ready to drop into my first run, I just reminded myself that it’s a brand-new run.” Kim said after Thursday’s event that she was prepared for the renewed attention following a second Olympic gold. “I am in a much better headspace, and I think I have a better idea of what to expect,” she said. She said she’s looking forward to seeing her family, her dog and her boyfriend. “I’m just going to feel all the feelings and just be proud of myself,” she said.
It was four years ago in PyeongChang, South Korea, that Kim soared, turned, and twisted her way to a gold medal in the halfpipe at her first Games. At PyeongChang, Kim had already won the gold with a stellar first run when she made history by becoming the first woman to land back-to-back 1080s in the halfpipe at the Olympics. At 17, she was the youngest female Olympic gold medalist in snowboarding history. Kim told reporters recently that the 2018 experience was overwhelming.
She took a break and attended Princeton University, which she said “gave me a good reset.” “I feel like I’m in such a better place now mentally and physically, as well,” Kim said in Beijing after her first place qualifying round Wednesday. “Just being so grateful to be out here and represent the U.S. I’m just so honored to be here and just enjoying the moment,” she said.