Breckenridge’s Gold nearly tops favorite Kim for X Games superpipe gold as American trio sweeps podium | SummitDaily.com

Breckenridge’s Gold nearly tops favorite Kim for X Games superpipe gold as American trio sweeps podium

Austin Colbert
The Aspen Times

Arielle Gold believes Chloe Kim can be beaten.

And Saturday at X Games Aspen, Gold nearly had her. Nearly.

"She can. I believe it, but it's so great to have someone like that who is spearheading the movement," Gold said of her friend and rival. "Seeing Chloe do back-to-back 10s, that's going to motivate myself, Maddie, and all the other girls in the field to ride better."

California's Kim won her fourth X Games gold Saturday — and third in Aspen — in the women's snowboard superpipe final, edging out silver-medalist Gold and bronze-medalist Maddie Mastro for an American podium sweep. Kim won X Games Aspen gold in 2015 and 2016 before taking third in 2017.

"I'm so happy to be part of this progression and to be joined by all these other girls," Kim said. "It's really amazing and inspirational. Just as a team we are so excited to watch each other progress and push each other and I think that's the beauty of what we do."

For the 22-year-old Gold, who grew up in Steamboat Springs and lives in Breckenridge, this was her second career X Games silver. The other came in the 2016 Aspen event; she's won bronze twice as well.

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The 92.33 Gold scored on her third and final run in the Buttermilk superpipe Saturday was arguably the best of her career. The 2014 Olympian — she didn't compete in Sochi because of an injury she sustained ahead of the event — had been working on that run in the lead-up to X Games, and surprised herself when she landed it in competition.

"Been trying to land it at every contest. And maybe it's not the wisest strategically, because I've fallen on it a lot, but it all paid off here and I'm so happy that it did," Gold said. "This was the gnarliest halfpipe contest I've ever been a part of it, so to be on the podium is a huge honor. Especially third run to be able to put that run down when the pressure was kind of on, I'm really happy."

Veteran Kelly Clark set the tone early in the contest, scoring 88.66 on her first run to eventually finish fourth. But Kim followed with a 90 on her first run and set the stage for a wild finish.

Mastro scored 89.33 on her third run to temporarily jump into second place behind Kim. On that run, Mastro, the 17-year-old from California, landed her first 1080 in competition. But Gold answered with her 92.33 and it looked like she might finally have her X Games title.

Then, Kim happened, as it usually does.

"I kind of like being in a situation like that, if that makes any sense," Kim said. "It just makes me more hungry to land a run and especially to land back-to-back 10s. I haven't done those in years. It felt so good to do that. Thanks to Arielle for putting me in that situation where I wanted to do it more than ever."

Kim, known for being the first woman to land back-to-back 1080s in the halfpipe — the first time she did was at a 2016 Grand Prix in Park City where she scored a perfect 100 — pulled out her signature combo on her final run to score 93.33 and win another X Games gold.

Finishing fifth was China's Cai Xuetong (84.66), sixth China's Jiayu Liu (83.66), seventh Japan's Sena Tomita (28.33) and eighth American Elena Hight (13.33), last year's X Games Aspen gold medalist.

Clark, 34, crashed on her second run and opted out of the third run. She is set to join Kim, Gold and Mastro in the Winter Olympics next month (finals are Feb. 13), Clark's fifth Olympic team. The seven-time X Games gold medalist has long been an inspiration for the younger women around her.

women’s snowboard superpipe results

1. Chloe Kim, USA 93.33

2. Arielle Gold, USA 92.33

3. Maddie Mastro, USA 89.33

4. Kelly Clark, USA 88.66

5. Cai Xuetong, CHN 84.66

6. Jiayu Liu, CHN 83.66

7. Sena Tomita, JPN 28.33

8. Elena Hight, USA 13.33