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Chloe Kim’s winning streak at stake at X Games

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Olympic favorite Chloe Kim puts a year-long halfpipe winning streak on the line at Winter X Games on Saturday night.

Kim, 16, goes for her third straight title in Aspen, Colo., and her eighth straight halfpipe victory overall. The streak started at last year’s X Games, where Kim scored 95 points to easily top Olympian Arielle Gold, who tallied 85.

Kim continued to rack up comfortable victories since (runner-up’s score):

2016 Park City Grand Prix — 100 points (Maddie Mastro, 92)
2016 Youth Olympics — 96.5 points (Emily Arthur, 90)
2016 X Games Oslo — 98 points (Kelly Clark, 82.33)
2016 U.S. Open — 89.37 points (Cai Xuetong, 82.99)
2016 Copper Mountain Grand Prix — 95.5 points (Liu Jiayu, 91)
2017 Laax Open — 90.5 points (Arielle Gold, 86.5)

Kim was a budding prodigy four years ago. She had not yet competed at the X Games, but at 13 years old she performed well enough at 2014 Olympic qualifying to be a podium contender in Sochi. Alas, Kim was too young to compete in those Winter Games.

She has since won back-to-back X Games halfpipes, unseating Kelly Clark, a three-time Olympic medalist and the greatest female snowboarder of all time. Clark was the last rider to beat Kim, at Kim’s native Mammoth Mountain, Calif., on Jan. 24, 2016.

“Definitely not, I wasn’t expecting it at all,” Kim said of her overwhelming success. “I always looked up to Kelly and [2010 Olympic champion] Torah Bright and Arielle Gold when I was like, 10.”

Clark didn’t win back-to-back X Games titles until she was 28 years old. Shaun White didn’t repeat until he was 22 years old.

Neither Clark nor White ever entered the Olympics winning all of their contests in the previous two years, which Kim could very well accomplish.

For now Kim is focused on X Games, keeping media commitments to a minimum in Aspen this week. The invited riders list includes all but one of the runners-up to Kim during her seven-contest streak.

Kim’s parents emigrated from South Korea, host of the 2018 Olympics, and she grew up in a Korean-speaking household. Kim and her father, Jong Jin, began snowboarding at the same time.

“Chloe was 4, I was 48,” he said last fall. “I was better than her, maybe one year. Right about a year later, she passed me.”

She has since passed everyone else.

NBC Olympic researcher Rachel Thompson contributed to this report.

MORE: Mark McMorris, after horrible injury, eyes 2 Olympic golds

*Correction: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that the U.S. Grand Prix at Mammoth Mountain, Calif., in February is an Olympic qualifier. It is for ski and snowboard slopestyle and snowboard slopestyle, but not snowboard halfpipe.

Yulia Efimova wags finger as Lilly King rivalry heats up (video)

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The Lilly KingYulia Efimova rivalry is back on, but this time the Russian is wagging her finger.

Efimova missed the 100m breaststroke world record by .01 in the semifinals at the world swimming championships in Budapest on Monday.

Efimova celebrated her time by finger wagging, an homage to King’s famous move in the ready room at the Rio Olympics.  She and King will go head to head in the final as the top two seeds on Tuesday after King won her later semifinal in a personal-best time .17 slower than Efimova.

“I’m always looking at the results from the heat before,” King told media in Budapest, adding that she wasn’t shaved for Monday’s semifinals. “I saw a little finger wag. I saw it. It’s just motivating me more, so that’s OK.”

King, who criticized Efimova’s presence in Rio after serving a doping ban, beat the Russian in the Olympic 100m breaststroke final last year.

Efimova served a 16-month ban for testing positive for the banned steroid DHEA in 2013. She again tested positive in February 2016 for meldonium, though she said she stopped taking it before it became a banned substance Jan. 1 and was absolved along with other athletes.

“You’ve been caught for drug cheating, I’m just not a fan,” King memorably said in Rio, adding last fall, “[Doping] was on all of our minds. We had team meetings talking about what it was going to be like. We were going to be racing dopers, and we all knew it.”

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Katinka Hosszu wins 200m IM as swimmer leaves pool mid-race (video)

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Hungarian Katinka Hosszu delivered the gold-medal performance a raucous Budapest crowd hoped for at the world swimming championships.

Canadian Sydney Pickrem, a medal favorite, appeared to get out of the pool after 50 meters. Swimming Canada later said she “took on water” approaching the first wall.

“Unfortunately it inhibited her to the point where she wasn’t able to continue in the race,” a press release said.

Hosszu won her third straight world title in the 200m individual medley, clocking 2:07.00 at the frenzied Danube Arena. The Olympic champion and world-record holder was followed by Japan’s Yui Ohashi (2:07.91) and American Madisyn Cox (2:09.71).

“Just another stepping stone,” said Cox, who finished her University of Texas career this year and made her major international debut in Budapest. “Of course, I want to be better. That time will come.”

Hosszu was the overwhelming favorite, given she held the three fastest times in the world this year going into Monday’s final. The “Iron Lady” became the first woman to win 10 individual world championships medals, a mark that Sarah SjostromKatie Ledecky and Yulia Efimova can surpass later in the meet. Retired Australian Leisel Jones won nine, all in breaststroke.

Hosszu scratched her other event Monday night, the 100m backstroke, one of three events she won at the Rio Olympics. Hosszu could earn medals in the 200m backstroke and 400m individual medley later this week.

Pickrem ranked No. 3 in the world this year and had the third-fastest time in the semifinals behind Hosszu and American Melanie Margalis, who finished fourth.

Women’s 200m Individual Medley Results
Gold: Katinka Hosszu (HUN) — 2:07.00
Silver: Yui Ohashi (JPN) — 2:07.91
Bronze: Madisyn Cox (USA) — 2:09.71
4. Melanie Margalis (USA) — 2:09.82
5. Runa Imai (JPN) — 2:09.99
6. Kim Seoyeong (KOR) — 2:10.40
7. Siobhan-Marie O’Connor (GBR) — 2:10.41
DQ. Sydney Pickrem (CAN)

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