Superstar snowboarder Chloe Kim dominates at FIS World Championships, furthering her reign at the top of the sport

Chloe Kim, of the United State,s performs a trick during the women's snowboard halfpipe final at the freestyle ski and snowboard world championships, Friday, Feb. 8, 2019, in Park City, Utah. (AP Photo/Alex Goodlett)

Park City • Another gold medal was already guaranteed, another dominant win, another day in which nobody could come close to Chloe Kim. So as the 18-year-old American snowboarding phenom prepped for her victory lap, she took a bit longer at the top of the massive, world-renowned Eagle Superpipe at the base of Park City Village. There, Kim skipped song after song, waiting for the perfect one to accompany her down to the bottom where an adoring crowd braving a chilly Friday afternoon was waiting to welcome her.

Kim eventually settled on a song, but on her second flight in the final run in the halfpipe, she did something she never does. She under-rotated on a double-cork 1080 attempt she started perfecting in October. She didn’t land a daredevil trick as she does basically every single time. She slid out and immediately put her hands on her head and cracked a smile. So, the only person who can stop Chloe Kim is none other than … Chloe Kim.

“Hyped I’m going home in one piece,” she said.

The U.S. teen sensation and reigning Olympic champion just cruised Friday, riding her first run score of 93.50 to guide her to a gold medal in the women’s snowboard halfpipe final at the 2019 FIS World Championships in Park City. Kim’s era, it appears, looks nowhere close to ending. It’s still just beginning. Snowboarding has its star, this rider who soars higher, twists and turns cleaner, and just owns every event. In the last calendar year, Kim has now won the Olympics, Winter Dew Tour, Winter X Games and now the 2019 world championships.

“I think everybody knows Chloe is a boss,” said China’s Xuetong Cai, who finished second Friday. “I’m just so happy that I got second.’

Once she carved her way to the bottom, Kim couldn’t help but laugh at herself. That’s who she is. The prodigy who knows when to laugh, who knows that all of this is a memorable ride she’s enjoying at such a young age. It was fitting, of course, that Kim donned the No. 1 bib. That’s because she’s the world’s best. And part of the brilliance of what she’s doing is this: expectations are always the center spot of the podium. Nowhere else. The last time she participated in a major event she didn’t win were the 2017 X Games.

“I wouldn’t say winning is always the big goal, right?” Kim said when asked about her long-term goals in snowboarding. “I always want to push myself and do different runs, land different tricks. As long as I get to do that, I’m pretty stoked. I think it’s just about pushing myself and progressing the sport.”


Women’s snowboard halfpipe final

1. Chloe Kim, USA, 93.50

2. Xuetong Cai, CHN, 84.00

3. Maddie Mastro, USA, 82.00

Men’s snowboard halfpipe final

1. Scotty James, AUS, 97.50

2. Yuto Totsuka, JPN, 92.25

3. Patrick Burgener, SUI, 91.25

Friday’s world championship crown also happened to be the three-year anniversary of Kim’s historic stop in Park City, when in 2016, the then-15-year-old became the first woman to ever land back-to-back 1080s en route to earning a perfect 100 score at a Grand Prix event.

Like all talented teens, though, she’s approaching a bit of a crossroads. Kim is enrolling in college this fall. She’s going to Princeton, where she says she just wants to be another stressed out college freshman rather than one of the most-marketable Olympic athletes worldwide. So how will she manage the balance life in the halfpipe and life on campus?

“You know, I have no idea, but I’m just going in pretty blind,” Kim said. “People say that college is the highlight of their lives, so I’m hoping that’s the same for me.”

The highlights produced so far have been pretty stellar. Kim’s stardom is still growing. Last year, when she made it known before her Olympic gold medal run that she was starving for snacks atop the pipe in South Korea, companies later sent loads churros and ice cream to the Kim household, so much so that freezer was never not full. When you’re that good, people respond. Now it’s just a matter of how long Kim’s time at the top lasts.