Chloe Kim wins 1st U.S. Grand Prix snowboard halfpipe title in driving snow
December 16, 2016
Editor’s note: Look for photos from the 2017 U.S. Grand Prix in Saturday’s newspaper.
COPPER MOUNTAIN, Colo. — Chloe Kim is an animal.
No offense to the 16-year-old snowboard phenom — check out her Instagram (@chloekimsnow) to see how un-animalistic she is — but when the going gets tough, the Korean-born member of the 2018 U.S. Olympic Team bares her teeth to lets no one get between her and a podium. It's even better if that means bagging a little gold in the process.
At the women's halfpipe final on Friday morning, Kim faced many of the same pros she'll see over and over again on her way to PyeongChang: first-place qualifier Verena Rohrer of Switzerland, fellow Americans Elena Hight and Hannah Teter, the Chinese duo of Xuetong Cai and Jiayu Liu. It's nearly a who's-who of the women's halfpipe scene right now, minus superstars like Kelly Clark, and every last one of them is dangerous.
After three runs, Kim proved she can take them all — and then some. Everyone struggled with billowing snow for the first run, and only Cai came close to breaking the 90.00 mark.
Things changed in the second run — call the first one a warm-up — when Liu earned a 91.00 with a nearly flawless run. Like the best of the men, she managed to get up and over the pipe deck even as snow whipped through Copper.
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On the next drop, Kim outdid Liu by a few inches of air and a few degrees of difficulty to score 95.50. It was the highest of the day for the women and kept her on top of the podium. Only Rohrer had a clean sequence in the third run, but her 83.75 wasn't enough to pass by Liu in second place with 91.00 and Cai in third with 89.25.
When the women finished and it was still snowing in sheets, Kim had won her first U.S. Grand Prix snowboard title. What an animal.
The 2017 U.S. Grand Prix wraps up on Saturday, Dec. 17 with the freeski superpipe finals for women and men at 9 a.m., followed by the snowboard big air finals for women and men at 12:15 p.m. and 1:45 p.m.
2017 U.S. Grand Prix snowboard finals
- Chloe Kim (USA) — 95.50
- Jiayu Liu (CHN) — 91.00
- Xuetong Cai (CHN) — 89.25
- Verena Rohrer (SUI) — 83.75
- Elena Hight (USA) — 82.50
- Hannah Teter (USA) — 80.00