Chloe Kim set to defend Burton U.S. Open title

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Chloe Kim woke to a buzzing phone on Sunday night. All those messages about Frances McDormand shouting out the snowboarder in her Oscars Best Actress acceptance speech.

Kim did not watch the Academy Awards live. She could not find the broadcast on her hotel room TV. Her publicist captured the McDormand video and sent it to the 17-year-old, who saw it after grasping for the phone from her bed.

“I was like, oh my goodness, tweeted my feelings and went back to sleep,” Kim said. “Then woke up to more text messages.”

While many Olympians ended their seasons in PyeongChang, Kim is in Vail, Colo., this week for one more halfpipe contest: the Burton U.S. Open.

“I’m actually exhausted from the whole Olympic craze,” Kim said in a phone interview between appointments Wednesday afternoon. “I’m kind of getting my feet back.”

The top nine women from the PyeongChang Olympics — including silver and bronze medalists Liu Jiayu and Arielle Gold and three-time Olympic medalist Kelly Clark — are in the field.

The halfpipe semifinals are Thursday and the final Saturday. A full schedule is here. Kim debuted at the U.S. Open when she was 11, made her first podium at 13 and won it the last two years.

Burton Snowboarders founder Jake Burton Carpenter watched Kim win in PyeongChang. Kim is a Burton rider, and this event means so much to her that she made it to Vail amid the post-Olympic whirlwind of off-snow opportunities.

“I’m here to have fun,” Kim said. “If I don’t come home with a win, that’s fine.”

Kim said she rode a snowboard on Monday for the first time since her gold-medal day on Feb. 13.

“It felt a little weird,” she said. “It’s all muscle memory. I got all my tricks back in the pipe, and now I’m ready to go.

“I’ve never spent this much time off and then straight into a contest, so, [it will be] interesting.”

It’s the last contest of the season for Kim, who turns 18 on April 23. Though she is looking at colleges, she plans to compete next season.

“I just need to find a school that will be able to work with my schedule,” she said, “because I don’t want to retire at 18.”

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