American teenager Chloe Kim blew away the rest of the field to win the women's snowboard halfpipe gold medal at Pyeongchang's Phoenix Snow Park on 12 February, stamping her authority with a near-perfect score of 98.25 on her final run.
China's Liu Jiayu took silver, while Arielle Gold (USA) – a dual silver medal-winning YOG athlete from Innsbruck 2012 – won bronze.
The Californian-born 17-year-old, supported by her extended family who live nearby in Seoul, added a golden new chapter to her Winter Olympic story after winning two gold medals at the Youth Olympic Games in Lillehammer 2016, in the snowboard halfpipe and slopestyle events.
Victory was already assured for Kim with a competition-leading 93.75 points on the board before she stepped up for the last run of the final. But rather than cruise through halfpipe and enjoy the adulation from the largest crowd seen at Phoenix Snow Park so far, Kim produced her most audacious run of the competition with back-to-back 1080s – a rapid spinning manoeuvre that is one of the most difficult tricks to land – to be awarded 98.25 points out of a possible 100 and beat Liu by almost 10 points.
I KNEW THAT I WANTED TO DO THAT THIRD RUN, I WANTED TO DO THE BACK-TO-BACK 1080S, GO BIGGER AND BETTER.Chloe KimUNITED STATES OF AMERICA
"I was like, tearing up and wanted to cry [when I knew I had won], but 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 said. “So that third run was really just to prove to myself that I deserved it and did everything I could. I did put down a really good run [in the first run] but I was like, 'I can do better than that'. I knew that I wanted to do that third run, I wanted to do the back-to-back 1080s, go bigger and better.”
Liu was also consistent on two of her three runs, scoring 85.50 on her first run and then 89.75 on her second, but was unable to keep up the pressure on Kim with 49.00 on her third and final time down the course.
Liu said afterwards she always believed she could beat her rivals, including Kim. "You have to feel like that, that you are the best, you can beat everybody. If you don't have that feeling you can't be a top athlete. But she is amazing."
photos Janos Schmidt