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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.

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*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.

WATCH LIVE: Nathan Chen in U.S. Figure Skating Championships free skate

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Nathan Chen tries to become the first man to win four straight U.S. figure skating titles since 1988, live on NBC Sports on Sunday.

NBC Sports Gold streams live coverage of the men’s free skate for subscribers starting at 2:30 p.m. ET in Greensboro, N.C. NBC joins with TV coverage at 3.

LIVE STREAM: Men’s Free Skate — Gold | NBC | Skate Order

Chen, a 20-year-old Yale sophomore, is undefeated since placing fifth at the PyeongChang Olympics. He can become the seventh man since World War II to win four straight national titles.

Five of the previous six went on to earn Olympic gold, including Dick ButtonScott Hamilton and, most recently, Brian Boitano in 1988.

Chen carries a substantial 13.14-point lead from Saturday’s short program, where he landed two quadruple jumps on one week of full training following a flu bout.

The anticipated drama Sunday comes in the battle for silver and bronze medals and the last two world championships team spots.

Jason BrownAndrew TorgashevVincent Zhou and Tomoki Hiwatashi are separated by 8.78 points. Brown, the 2015 U.S. champion, and Zhou, the 2019 World bronze medalist, are the only men in the field other than Chen with world team experience.

Key Skate Times
5:01 p.m. (ET) — Vincent Zhou
5:18 — Tomoki Hiwatashi
5:26 — Andrew Torgashev
5:35 — Nathan Chen
5:43 — Jason Brown

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As a reminder, you can watch the events from the 2019-20 figure skating season live and on-demand with the ‘Figure Skating Pass’ on NBC Sports Gold. Go to NBCsports.com/gold/figure-skating to sign up for access to every ISU Grand Prix and championship event, as well as domestic U.S. Figure Skating events throughout the season. NBC Sports Gold gives subscribers an unprecedented level of access on more platforms and devices than ever before.

Mikaela Shiffrin, with 66th World Cup win, moves one shy of career dream

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Mikaela Shiffrin has said one of her career dreams is to win in every discipline in one season. She is now one victory shy of realizing it.

Shiffrin earned her 66th World Cup victory — and her second in three days — at a super-G in Bansko, Bulgaria, on Sunday.

She prevailed by .29 of a second over Italian Marta Bassino and .70 over Swiss Lara Gut-Behrami. Gut-Behrami, the last skier other than Shiffrin to win a World Cup overall title back in 2016, earned her first podium in exactly one year.

Full results are here.

“Perfect weekend for me,” said Shiffrin, who moved one shy of recently retired Austrian Marcel Hirscher for third place on the World Cup career wins list. “The whole team is excited about the whole weekend, but especially today.”

She is en route to a fourth straight World Cup overall title. And she is a combined victory away from wins in all five disciplines in one season. Only Marc GirardelliPetra KronbergerJanica Kostelic and Tina Maze have done it.

“The thing that I’m most proud of right now is that I know how to win in slalom, [giant slalom], super-G and downhill, which I never expected that would really happen,” she said.

Shiffrin struggled with confidence during a winless stretch in early January, trying not to compare herself to last season, when she won a record 17 times. She still leads the men’s and women’s tours with six victories this season, a little more than halfway through.

“Every race is such a big fight, and I haven’t been the one on top of this fight every time,” she said. “Certainly I’ve been like sometimes the expectations that I have or that other people might have, I’m not quite living up to that. Sometimes it’s hard not to feel like I’m failing sometimes, even though this is still just an incredible season.”

There are two combined races left this season for Shiffrin to achieve the dream — Feb. 23 in Switzerland and March 1 in Italy. While combined — mixing a speed run and a technical run — might seem perfect for Shiffrin, she has one victory in four starts in the discipline between the World Cup and Olympics.

And Shiffrin is careful about her race schedule. She is undecided on entering a downhill and super-G next weekend at the 2014 Olympic venue in Russia.

“After this weekend my brain is a little bit dead,” she joked.

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