By the end of Chloe Kim's first run down the halfpipe last night, it was clear that she had secured the gold medal. Kim landed an impressive string of tricks, including a backside air, frontside 1080, cab 720, frontside 900, McTwist, and a frontside 720, which put her in the lead, and gave her competitors a tough act to follow. Kim said she was happy to put down a solid first run, but it wasn't enough.
Technically, Kim had enough points to treat the last run as a "victory lap," and just mail it in. Instead she crushed it, completing the most technical trick in her bag: back-to-back 1080s. "I just knew I wasn't going to be happy, even if I went home with the gold, if I knew I could do better," Kim told NBC. "So that third run was really just to prove to myself that I deserved it and did everything I could."
Landing one frontside 1080 is hard, and completing consecutive 1080s is next to impossible — but it's also Kim's signature. A frontside 1080, or F1080, jump means that the snowboarder is rotating their body, so that their "front" faces down the mountain (or in this case the halfpipe). The second 1080 that Kim performed, a cab 1080, is just like a frontside, only the snowboarder rides with their "switch" or unnatural stance. And, as the degrees of rotation suggest, doing a 1080 means you turn around a full three times in the air.
At the 2016 Snowboarding Grand Prix, Kim became the first woman to land two 1080s in a row in a competition. At the time, she was just 16 years old, and the trick put her in the big leagues with older competitors. For perspective: In 2011, Kelly Clark, a Team USA snowboarder, was the first woman to ever land a 1080 in a competition, and she's 17 years older than Kim.
Clark and Kim's success with the trick motivated other Team USA snowboarders, like Arielle Gold and Maddie Mastro, to try it, too. "That was just so much more motivation for me," Gold told the Denver Post last week. "That’s what you need to do to be able to do well in contests these days and get on the podium." Indeed, Gold landed a frontside 1080 on her final run last night, which earned her a bronze medal.
During the competition yesterday, the conditions were not ideal for spinning through the air, and Kim said she was nervous the intense wind would mess with her performance. "Wind is never really welcome to a halfpipe, it kind of jeopardizes everything, because you're not in control of what's about to happen," she told NBC. She also tweeted that she was getting hangry between her runs.
Despite the odds, Kim put in her headphones, turned on "MotorSport," by Migos, Cardi B, and Nicki Minaj, and showed the world what she's capable of. "As an athlete, you want to do the best you can to show the world what your best is, and this was the perfect platform to do that," she told NBC. She also added that the emotions have started to hit: "It hasn't really sunken in, I might start bawling my eyes out any second."
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