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Four years later, Chloe Kim doesn’t regret missing Sochi

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In 2014, Chloe Kim was relegated to a footnote in the Olympic history books.

Her absence from the Sochi Games was noteworthy. Had she been allowed to compete, she might have won a medal. There was one problem though: She was too young.

Official rules stated that competitors for snowboard halfpipe must have turned at least 15 years old by the end of 2013. Kim was just 13, though she was already one of the best halfpipe riders in the world.

As a result, many people lamented the idea that the Olympics would go on without her. Kim admits that she, too, was disappointed at the time.

Now she sees it as a blessing in disguise.

“Now that I think about it, I’m really glad I wasn’t able to go,” Kim told NBC Olympics last year. “I don’t think I would’ve been able to take it, to handle the pressure. Emotionally I don’t think I was ready.

“There’s obviously such a huge difference between 13 and 17. Like, when I was 13, what did I do? Get my nails done and do maybe two or three contests a year. I feel like a lot’s changed. And I didn’t have much experience when it came to a lot of media pressure and sponsors, all that stuff. But now I kind of know, I’ve kind of been through it all. So I think I’ll be a little more prepared for things.”

NBCOlympics.com: More on Chloe Kim

Instead of competing in Sochi, Kim watched the event while sitting on her couch and eating ice cream.

This time in PyeongChang, she’ll be a participant. And the expectations will be high.

Kim, who is a first-generation Korean-American, is not just expected to win the gold medal — she’s expected to be a breakout star. A number of Olympic sponsors have made her a cornerstone of their activations, and she’s been featured heavily in NBC’s lead-up marketing, even starring in her own Super Bowl commercial.

When it comes to tricks, Kim is a step ahead of the field. She’s had the frontside 1080 dialed in for a number of years, but her main focus this season has been cleaning up the switch version of that trick (which is called a “cab 1080”).

Two years ago, Kim became the first woman to land back-to-back 1080s — she did a frontside 1080 on one wall of the halfpipe, followed by a cab 1080 on the other wall — in a competition run. She remains the only woman to successfully execute that combo.

She’s been able to win numerous contests since then without that second 1080 in her run, but with many of her competitors suddenly stepping up their game and learning the frontside 1080 before PyeongChang, Kim dusted off the back-to-back 10s again last month at X Games Aspen.

The result: her third gold medal in four years at the event.

Kim will now try to carry that momentum over to the PyeongChang Olympics, where a U.S. medal sweep is a very real possibility. Teammates Arielle Gold, Maddie Mastro and Kelly Clark went second, third and fourth behind Kim at X Games.

“I think about it all the time,” Kim said with a laugh when asked if she ever lets herself envision what it would be like to stand atop the Olympic podium. “Honestly, I think I’ll probably just be bawling my eyes the whole time.”

USA wins gold in men’s curling

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For the first time in history, the United States won the Olympic gold medal in curling.

A week ago, it didn’t seem like that would happen. Sitting at 2-4 and with a game against behemoth Canada coming up, John Shuster captained the United States to three consecutive wins (over Canada, Switzerland, and Great Britain) to squeak into the semifinals. From there, they took down Great Britain before completing the run against Sweden in the gold medal game.

Tied at 5-5 in the eighth end, Shuster was able to hit both of Sweden’s rocks out of the house, giving the United States an incredible five points and a 10-5 lead heading into the ninth.

NBCOlympics.com: Watch: Team USA scores five points in eighth end

After that, it was all about protecting the lead. Just a few minutes later Swedish skip Niklas Edin conceded the game, and it was the United States standing on top of the podium for the first time ever in the sport of curling.

Click here to read the full recap from the gold medal game 

Ester Ledecka first woman to win gold in two sports at same Winter Olympics

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One week after shocking the world by winning a gold medal in Alpine skiing, Ester Ledecka of the Czech Republic strapped back into a snowboard and won a gold medal in her primary sport.

Ledecka, the No. 1 ranked athlete in women’s parallel giant slalom snowboarding, qualified for the finals of that event with the fastest time, then won four consecutive head-to-head races to claim her second gold medal of the PyeongChang Olympics.

With the win, Ledecka is the first woman to win gold medals in two different sports at the same Winter Olympics.

Results: Women’s Parallel Giant Slalom

Gold: Ester Ledecka (CZE)
Silver: Selina Joerg (GER)
Bronze: Ramona Hofmeister (GER)
4. Alena Zavarzina (OAR)
5. Benjamin Karl (AUT)
6. Stefan Baumeister (GER)
7. Roland Fischnaller (ITA)
8. Edwin Coratti (ITA)

Click here to catch up on all of the snowboarding action from PyeongChang