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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.”

Caster Semenya allowed to race 800m at Pre Classic

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Caster Semenya has been switched from the 3000m to the 800m at next week’s Pre Classic, marking her first scheduled 800m since a Swiss Supreme Court ruling allowed her to race her Olympic gold-medal distance while she appeals a new IAAF testosterone rule.

“Caster’s representation requested that she be moved from the 3,000 meters (where she was originally entered) to the 800 meters, and we are happy to comply,” Prefontaine Classic meet director Tom Jordan said in a statement, confirming a Reuters report.

NBC Sports airs live Pre Classic coverage on June 30 from 4-6 p.m. ET.

Semenya, the two-time Olympic 800m champion, was originally entered in the 3000m because the rule bars her from races between 400m and the mile unless she takes testosterone-suppressing measures, under which she would be allowed to return to those distances late this year. Semenya refuses to take those measures.

A Swiss Supreme Court ruling two weeks ago lifted the restriction for Semenya — but not other athletes — while her appeal is pending. The IAAF has until Monday to respond to the court before a ruling could be made. A resolution could still be months away, with Semenya possibly able to race until that day comes.

Semenya has won 30 straight 800m races dating to 2015, including the Rio Olympics and 2017 World Championships. All three Rio Olympic 800m medalists have said they are affected by the new rule capping testosterone in women’s races between the 400m and mile.

That meant none raced at Diamond League stops in Stockholm and Rabat, Morocco, earlier this month. Last Sunday’s Rabat meet offered Semenya a late invite, more than a week after her restriction was lifted, but Semenya said it was too late for her to travel in time to race.

American record holder Ajeé Wilson won the Stockholm 800m without any of the Olympic medalists in the field.

MORE: Caster Semenya to IAAF: Focus on dopers, not us

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Geraint Thomas crashes out of Tour de France prep race

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BASEL, Switzerland (AP) — Tour de France champion Geraint Thomas crashed in a cycling race, days after teammate Chris Froome was involved in a season-ending accident in France.

Team INEOS said Thomas should be fine to start the Tour de France on July 6 despite having to drop out of the fourth stage of the nine-day Tour de Suisse race in Switzerland.

“Clearly it’s frustrating and a small setback for my Tour de France preparations, but there’s still plenty of time before we start in Brussels in a few weeks’ time,” Thomas said, according to the team.

The team says on Twitter that Thomas “was alert and speaking to the team after the crash and will be taken to hospital for checks.”

Thomas had a ripped jersey and cuts on his back and shoulder after hitting the road with about 18 miles left in the stage. He was in eighth place, 28 seconds behind race leader Peter Sagan.

Thomas won the 2018 Tour after Froome won four times between 2013 and 2017.

Watch world-class cycling events throughout the year with the NBC Sports Gold Cycling Pass, including all 21 stages of the Tour de France live & commercial-free, plus access to renowned races like La Vuelta, Paris-Roubaix, the UCI World Championships and many more.

MORE: NBC Sports launches Cycling Pass for 2019-20 season

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