February 12, 2018
PYEONGCHANG, South Korea — Chloe Kim stood atop the Olympic podium and wiped away a tear.
It didn’t matter that this outcome was long expected, that the gold medal was effectively hers before she came to Pyeongchang.

The 17-year-old phenom with all the pressure in the world had lived up to the expectations – both the external ones that had already written the win in ink and the internal ones that had her pushing her riding on a victory lap.
Chloe Kim wins gold in women's snowboard halfpipe at 2018 Winter Olympics
“This is the best outcome I could ever ask for and it's been such a long journey,” Kim said after the final at Phoenix Snow Park on Tuesday. “Just going home with the gold is amazing."
That journey has been one full of expectation for Kim, who qualified for the U.S. team for Sochi but was too young to go. Since then, she’s been expected to be the future of the sport.
But that future came quickly as Kim has become the best halfpipe rider in the world the last four years. She’s won six X Games medals, including gold last month, and was the first rider to qualify for the U.S. team this year.
That led to endless media attention coming into these Games, due in large part to her riding but in no small part to her Korean heritage.
On Tuesday, her extended family watched her dominate the competition in her parents’ native country. Up top, the California teen was checking her phone to stay distracted between runs.
She tweeted that she was hungry after not finishing her breakfast sandwich. Amid qualifying on Monday, she tweeted that she was craving ice cream.
“I think I'm just always trying to distract myself and think of things in a positive way,” she said. “And you know there are so many people here that came to watch and that's so fun and exciting to just watch women's snowboarding be something the people do want to see. I feel the sport has been progressing at such a fast pace, especially this year, I'm so honored to be a part of it and I think we saw a lot of cool stuff in the halfpipe today."
That progression included all three riders on the podium landing 1080s, the most difficult trick in the halfpipe right now.
Kim scored a 93.75 on her first run, one that included one 1080. China’s Jiayu Liu claimed silver with a 89.75. Arielle Gold, Kim’s U.S. teammate, claimed bronze with an 85.75.
In all five riders landed a 1080, and three others in the 12-woman final attempted one. Coming into this season, only Kim and veteran Kelly Clark had ever landed one.
“It was amazing. I wouldn’t have expected anything less from this field of girls,” Gold said. “I think it just pushed the sport that much further and showed what women are capable of.”
So did Kim, still the only rider to land 1080s back to back. She fell attempting them in her second run and, though she had the contest sewn up, went for it on her third run. She landed them, and the judges rewarded the difficult tricks and amplitude with a 98.25.
“I knew that if I went home with a gold medal knowing I could do better, I wasn't going to be satisfied,” she said. “That third run was just for me to prove to myself that I did it and I can just go home really happy and excited."
That ethos is not new in women’s snowboarding after years of Clark pushing her riding in victory laps.
Clark likely ended her Olympic career on Tuesday, finishing fourth here. In her five Olympics, she has never done worse than that and has a gold and two bronze medals.
The 34-year-old still must decide her future in the sport, but she knows it’s in good hands whenever she steps away from competing.
“Chloe's an outstanding snowboarder, but I'm more proud of her for how she's handled herself as a person,” Clark said. “She's handled success and pressure with grace and class and it's refreshing."
For Kim, that meant genuine appreciation for the moment. Yes, she was expected to do this. She’s felt the weight of that for months, viewing it as a positive that people think highly of her instead of pressure.
But now the pressure she puts on herself is gone. Atop the Olympic podium, Kim teared up, satisfied that she’d earned the gold medal she’d already won.
“This whole experience has been insane,” Kim said. “You hear so much about the Olympics but actually being a part of it is a completely different story and I'm so fortunate to be able to go through all that and just share my story with the world has been amazing for me and I'm really excited for the future."
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