Chloe Kim Earns 3rd X Games Gold in Superpipe at X Games Olso 2016
Words: Larry Nunez
While the X Games Men’s Superpipe Finals in Aspen last month was thwarted by the onslaught of a three-day snowstorm that pummeled Colorado, the women were still able to get their first ever final night spotlight at snowboarding’s most watched event. Not that the conditions were perfect – there was still plenty of snow coming down during the finals – but reigning champion Chole Kim was able to defend her title and win her second gold medal in as many years, becoming the first athlete in X Games history to win two gold medals before her 16th birthday. Well, apparently two wasn’t enough, as Kim added to her record of X Games firsts with another victory in Oslo, Norway on Friday.
There was no snowstorm to speak of this time, as picture perfect blue skies turned golden sunset set the stage for the girls to face off once again. With eight riders going into the finals, it seemed only a few stood a chance at dethroning Kim’s reign at the top. Olympic champions Hannah Teter and Kelly Clark are always ones to watch, as well as the more recent up and comer Arielle Gold. But no one even really came close to the sheer size of Kim’s massive airs.
Right from the onset Kim set the bar high with a giant method into her very recently perfected back-to-back 1080 combo: front ten to cab ten (the only female to achieve this in competition thus far). She followed that with a huge ally oop five into a McTwist, running out of halfpipe in the process and laying down in the back seat on her final hit and giving the other girls a sliver of hope. But even then, it was quite clear she was going to put this run down.
Breckenridge’s Arielle Gold had a solid first run and an even better second run to hold on to first place for about half the contest, that is until Kim blasted her way to the top with her second attempt at the same run, minus the last McTwist. It didn’t even matter… even with only four hits she earned a 96.33 that was so far beyond the rest of the field.
Granted, Kelly Clark was not at a hundred percent. After a tough fall in practice, Clark wasn’t feeling the undaunted confidence we’re used to from her going into the evening.
“I’ve been having a hard time with my hamstring all week, so I didn’t quite know how this evening was gonna go,” confessed Clark.
She did in fact put down three solid runs, improving her score each time and finally knocking Gold down to bronze on her third and final try.
“That was a cold turkey 1080 and I just tried to build on every run,” explained Clark. “I’m glad it was good enough for second place.”
But even with the win intact, there would be no victory lap for Kim. Intent on putting down the run she initially wanted, Kim cranked Melanie Martinez’s “Carousel” in her headphones, measured the pipe to perfection and landed the best run of her life, stomping that last McTwist with authority and scoring a 98.00.
“It’s crazy, it’s unbelievable,” said Kim of her record setting X Games win. “I definitely wasn’t expecting it, but I was just so stoked with my riding and thankful I was able to put down that run.”
Whether it’s hosting the World Championships, the Artic Challenge or now, the X Games, Oslo once again delivered with a world-class venue for snowboarders to perform their best. If there’s one thing all the riders had in common, it was an appreciation for the event, the country and the adventure.
“This is so special because I’ve never been to Norway before, so just being able to experience this is unreal,” said the young Kim, just before giving an interview in French, which she speaks fluently. This young lady just continues to impress.
“Coming to Norway there is such an emphasis on snow sports in general,” followed Clark. “It’s such a good crowd and people are so stoked on snowboarding. It’s just such a cool atmosphere.”