With spots on the U.S. Olympic freeskiing and snowboarding teams on the line and a busy day of finals at the Dew Tour iON Mountain Championships, the top finishers and winter games story lines took a backseat to one third-place finisher with no Olympic aspirations — at least not until 2018.
That’s because at 13, Chloe Kim isn’t even eligible for Olympic competition.
The U.S. team’s snowboarding phenom made a big splash claiming third in the superpipe behind three-time Olympian Kelly Clark, who finshed second, and Australian gold medalist Torah Bright, who was first.
“Chloe’s just a shredder. She’s one of the best up-and-coming riders,” Clark said after the competition. “Well, I guess we can’t really call her up and coming anymore.”
Coming from the snowboarder with the record for most first-place finishes in men’s or women’s snowboarding, that’s quite the compliment.
“I’m really excited, this is the best thing that’s ever happened to me,” the grinning teen said after posing for photos with Clark. “Definitely unexpected. I’m just glad I landed my run and got a great result.”
Kim’s 89.4 score was just over a point behind Clark.
How does Kim handle the pressure on such a big stage?
“I wasn’t really nervous or anything,” she said, “just because I can’t go to the Olympics anyway. For now, I’m just trying to have fun and it’s working.”
With Bright taking first, Clark became the leading U.S. contender for a spot on the women’s superpipe team.
“Honestly, second place feels like I won today,” Clark said. “I got those first-place points heading into Sochi. And that’s what these contests are about. I’m on my way.”
As one of the first to hit the pipe, Bright showed exactly why she’s the reigning Olympic gold medalist, stomping a 95.4 on her first run.
“I did my run I wanted to do well. I couldn’t have been much happier,” she said.
Bretz tops white in superpipe
With only one snowboarder left to drop in the final round of the men’s superpipe competition, 2010 Olympian Greg Bretz couldn’t have felt very confident about his grasp on the top spot. Not when you consider that the snowboarder was two-time Olympic gold medalist and X Games legend Shaun White. But White’s final run of 90.4 fell one point short of Bretz’s score.
“I feel absolutely amazing; it hasn’t really sunk in,” Bretz said after. “I’m absolutely ecstatic right now.”
Of the effort needed going forward to make the Olympic team, he said, “I just gotta ride to my fullest and not focus on anything else.”
Fellow Olympian Louie Vito finished fourth behind Steamboat’s Taylor Gold.
After a disappointing sixth-place finish in women’s superpipe, dual-threat freeskier Devin Logan topped the podium in women’s slopestyle Saturday.
“I feel amazing. I couldn’t have asked for anything better,” she said. “I wanted some more redemption from half-pipe. I really wanted to be on that podium, but things happens, so I’m happy I took the top spot today.”
Logan — who recently returned to competition after tearing her ACL — called today’s run a confidence booster heading into the second Olympic qualifier next weekend at Copper Mountain Resort.
While she probably locked up the biggest round of applause for the day, Breck’s own Keri Herman fell just short of the podium, finishing fourth behind American Maggie Voisin and Canadian Kim Lamarre.
Men’s freeski superpipe
Two Coloradoans made the podium in the men’s freeski half-pipe finals. While Nevada’s David Wise took top honors with a 92.6 in his second run, Crested Butte’s own Aaron Blunk took second, with Boulder’s Lyman Currier in third.
The Dew Tour finishes Sunday with men’s freeski and snowboard slopestyle. Shaun White will look to lay claim to the top spot in snowboarding, with Nick Goepper aiming for No. 1 in freesking slope.
Complete Dew Tour results are available at www.dewtour.com.