Defending three consecutive X Games Women's Snowboard Superpipe Golds (two Aspen, one Oslo) while currently on a yearlong winning streak that had her competitors stunned, Chloe Kim came into the night with everything to lose.
At only 16 years old it seems odd to think she would be currently recognized as the most dominant athlete in her sport, but that is exactly what Kim has proven to be. Coming into the evening, it seemed to be her event to lose.
X Games switched up their Superpipe format to a two run format with only the best run score counting. In recent years past, X Games has allowed riders three attempts through the Superpipe to land their best score, which is also the format of many major Superpipe events and is naturally what Kim has been training for.
Coming into X Games' new, two-run format, the expectation from Kim was the same as always— top to bottom completion.
Xuetong Cai was the sixth rider to drop, and with an impressive run complete with big spins and stylish straight airs she topped the field and earned her a comfortable lead scoring 85.
After the opening six women took to the pipe, the lights went out on nearly half of the pipe, which left Kim sitting cold with Arielle Gold waiting to take their first runs for an additional 15 minutes in frigid temperatures.
Once the lights were back on, Gold resumed the competition. But after her second wall, she found herself washing out on the landing to drag her mitten and essentially throw away her run. She looked cold.
Kim fell on her first wall going for a switch method to kick things off. Instead, Kim found herself killing time all over again. She was in dead last.
After Kim's run, it was time for another break. Hip Hop artist G-Eazy took over the coral at the bottom of the Superpipe to perform a song for the crowd as part of the first-ever musical intermission at X Games.
Back to the competition, for the second and final runs.
Elena Hight was second to ride. Still holding strong for silver with back-to-back 720s into back-to-back 900s to earn a 76.6, Hight upped the amplitude on the same run and bumped it up to an 87.33. Hight was the new leader.
Clark completed a run that included a 1080 but only placed her in third. Cai fell and stuck with her first run score, which gave her a 12-point lead over Clark. Gold dropped in but looked cold again and drug her hand on the landing of her second wall.
Kim finished text and set her phone down as the cameraman panned toward her face. Seemingly careless, Kim yelled "yeah," and proceeded to strap up and drop in.
"That was probably the tamest run we have ever seen from Chloe in an X Games," said one announcer once she has finished.
Her run did not include a 1080, or even a 900. Kim kicked things off switch with a method to set her up for switch into back-to-back 720s before she finished her run with a switch 540 and 360.
Though devoid of big spins, it was certainly technical and unique. A great run to build off. It earned her an 81 and third on the evening.
Kim's run may not have taken her to the top of the X Games podium this time, but sticking to her strategy kept her from missing out on a medal entirely.
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