Chloe Kim sets the tone for her snowboarding sequel

chloe kim
Getty Images
0 Comments

When Chloe Kim returned to halfpipe training last October, 19 months since her last snowboard contest, she wasn’t quite sure what to expect.

Few who saw her feats at the PyeongChang Olympics would have predicted what happened on her first foray in Saas-Fee in the Swiss Alps.

“I actually caught my edge riding down to the mountain,” a beginner’s mistake, she joked last week, “which kind of was embarrassing.”

What happened next was astonishing.

In a three-day span, Kim, who in 2018 became the youngest Olympic halfpipe champ at age 17, then took the 2019-20 season off while attending Princeton, said she regained all of the tricks that propelled her to teen stardom.

“The whole situation surprised me,” longtime U.S. coach Rick Bower said. “She came and was riding, in some cases, better than she was when she left.

“I was expecting her to be successful and have a relatively easy time coming back, but what I witnessed first-hand was very impressive, to say the least.”

Kim, after training in the Alps and more recently Colorado, competes this week for the first time since March 2019. She headlines the Laax Open in Switzerland. Finals air live on Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA and Peacock Premium on Saturday (full TV and stream schedule here).

On that first day back in October, Kim felt anxious as she clipped into her snowboard. That’s because she spent the preceding 10 days in preventative quarantine after flying to Europe, unable to ride.

She was a bit nervous, too, wondering how her surgically repaired right ankle would handle the training. At her most recent contest, Kim broke the ankle at the 2019 Burton U.S. Open. She developed some pain those first few days in Saas-Fee, an obstacle she overcame.

Kim landed her patented back-to-back 1080s in the early stages of the two-and-half-week camp, Bower said. She is the only woman to perform the combination in competition, including on a victory-lap run in PyeongChang with the gold already assured.

Asked about the prospect of relearning tricks, the rider nonchalantly answered, “I got ‘em all back. They’re good. They’re chilling.”

“I’ve been doing this for so long,” said Kim, who started riding at 4 and competing at 6 and became a junior national champion at 7. “It was just all muscle memory.”

Bower helped coach Kim since the 2014-15 season, after she qualified for the Sochi Olympics at age 13 but was too young to compete. He has coached with the U.S. federation for a decade and a half. He labeled what Kim did in Saas-Fee unprecedented, from his experiences over the years.

“The progression into the tricks usually is limited by people’s fear and [lack of] confidence with throwing the more technical maneuvers,” he said. “She had none of that. It was pretty seamless how she just checked off her trick list. It was basically a best-case scenario. Go up there one day, and she would do more than I thought she would do, and the next day she would do even more.”

In 2019, Kim made the tough decision to barter bindings for textbooks, move from California to New Jersey and take her first break since she began competing at a pro level at age 12. She wanted to experience life outside of snowboarding.

Kim, who was home-schooled in middle school and took online classes throughout high school, has been open about the difficult transition into a campus and classroom setting as somebody who is globally recognized.

Reflecting last week, she cherished her freshman year. She plans to return to school, though she does not know when.

“I didn’t want to regret not doing certain things when I was older, so I thought that taking the season off was going to be really good for me mentally,” said Kim, whose classes included French (which she first learned spending third and fourth grade with her aunt in Geneva), biology and the history of music. “It definitely is nice to know that I made so many amazing friends who are so incredibly smart.”

The year away also put sport in perspective.

“I love snowboarding so much, and I love competing and pushing myself and learning all of these tricks, but I think when I went to school I realized that’s not the only thing I’m going to do for the rest of my life,” said Kim, who last year also competed and performed on “The Masked Singer.” “Realizing that has definitely taken a lot of pressure off of me, but I want to keep doing this for as long as I can.”

The competitive return starts in Laax, where Kim recorded an international breakthrough 11 years ago, winning the Burton European Open junior division at age 9. Her winning run then reportedly included back-to-back 540s.

“I’m completely aware that I haven’t competed in a full season, and I’ve taken a good amount of time off, so it’d be silly of me to kind of expect to be perfect again,” she said. “I’m really happy with where I’m at right now, definitely doing a lot better than I thought I was going to be.”

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

IOC gives more time to pick 2030 Olympic host, studies rotating Winter Games

Getty
0 Comments

The 2030 Winter Olympic host, expected to be Salt Lake City or Sapporo, Japan, is no longer targeted to be decided before next fall, the IOC said in announcing wider discussions into the future of the Winter Games, including the possibility of rotating the Games within a pool of hosts.

The IOC Future Host Commission was granted more time to study factors, including climate change, that could impact which cities and regions host future Winter Olympics and Paralympics. The 2030 Winter Games host is not expected to be decided before or at an IOC session next September or October.

Hosts have traditionally been chosen by IOC members vote seven years before the Games, though recent reforms allow flexibility on the process and timeline. For example, the 2024 and 2028 Games were awarded to Paris and Los Angeles in a historic double award in 2017. The 2032 Summer Games were awarded to Brisbane last year without a traditional bid race.

There are three interested parties for the 2030 Winter Olympics, the IOC said Tuesday without naming them. Previously, Salt Lake City, Sapporo and Vancouver were confirmed as bids. Then in October, the British Columbia government said it would not support a Vancouver bid, a major setback, though organizers did not say that decision ended the bid. All three cities are attractive as past Winter Games hosts with existing venues.

U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee officials have said Salt Lake City is a likelier candidate for 2034 than 2030, but could step in for 2030 if asked.

The future host commission outlined proposals for future Winter Olympics, which included rotating hosts within a pool of cities or regions and a requirement that hosts have an average minimum temperature below freezing (32 degrees) for snow competition venues at the time of the Games over a 10-year period.

The IOC Executive Board gave the commission more time to study the proposals and other factors impacting winter sports.

The IOC board also discussed and will continue to explore a potential double awarding of the 2030 and 2034 Winter Olympic hosts.

Also Tuesday, the IOC board said that Afghanistan participation in the 2024 Olympics will depend on making progress in safe access to sports for women and young girls in the country.

On Monday, Human Rights Watch urged the IOC to suspend Afghanistan until women and girls can play sport in the country.

In a press release, the IOC board expressed “serious concern and strongly condemned the latest restrictions imposed by the Afghan authorities on women and young girls in Afghanistan, which prevent them from practicing sport in the country.” It urged Afghanistan authorities to “take immediate action at the highest level to reverse such restrictions and ensure safe access to sport for women and young girls.”

The IOC board also announced that North Korea’s National Olympic Committee will be reinstated when its suspension is up at the end of the year.

In September 2021, the IOC banned the North Korean NOC through the end of 2022, including banning a North Korean delegation from participating in the Beijing Winter Games, after it chose not to participate in the Tokyo Games.

North Korea, formally known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, was the only one of 206 National Olympic Committees to withdraw from Tokyo. The country made its choice in late March 2021, citing a desire “to protect our athletes from the global health crisis caused by the malicious virus infection.”

The IOC said in September 2021 that it “provided reassurances for the holding of safe Games and offered constructive proposals to find an appropriate and tailor-made solution until the very last minute (including the provision of vaccines), which were systematically rejected by the PRK NOC.”

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Olympic champion Justine Dufour-Lapointe leaves moguls for another skiing discipline

Justine Dufour-Lapointe
Getty
0 Comments

Justine Dufour-Lapointe, the 2014 Olympic moguls champion, is leaving the event to compete in freeriding, a non-Olympic skiing discipline.

“After three Olympic cycles and 12 years on the World Cup circuit, I felt that I needed to find a new source of motivation and had to push my limits even more so I can reach my full potential as a skier,” the 28-year-old Montreal native said in a social media video, according to a translation from French. “Today, I am starting a new chapter in my career. … I want to perfect myself in another discipline. I want to connect with the mountain differently. Above all, I want to get out of my comfort zone in a way I’ve never done before.”

Dufour-Lapointe said she will compete on the Freeride World Tour, a series of judged competitions described as:

There‘s a start gate at the summit and a finish gate at the bottom. That’s it. Best run down wins. It truly is that simple. Think skiers and snowboarders choosing impossible-looking lines through cornices and cliff-faces and nasty couloirs. Think progressive: big jumps, mach-speed turns and full-on attack. Think entertaining.

Dufour-Lapointe has retired from moguls skiing, according to a Freeride World Tour press release, though she did not explicitly say that in social media posts Tuesday.

At the 2014 Sochi Winter Games, Dufour-Lapointe denied American Hannah Kearney‘s bid to become the first freestyle skier to repeat as Olympic champion. Older sister Chloé took silver in a Canadian one-two.

Dufour-Lapointe also won the world title in 2015, then Olympic silver in 2018 behind Frenchwoman Perrine Laffont.

Chloé announced her retirement in September. A third Dufour-Lapointe Olympic moguls skier, Maxime, retired in 2018.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!