Chloe Kim sets the tone for her snowboarding sequel

chloe kim
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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.”

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Chloe Kim, Elana Meyers Taylor among Olympians to join presidential sports council

Elana Meyers Taylor, President Joe Biden

Chloe Kim and Elana Meyers Taylor are among the Olympic and Paralympic medalists set to join the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness, & Nutrition.

President Joe Biden intends to appoint the snowboarder Kim, bobsledder Meyers Taylor, retired Olympic medalists Chaunté Lowe (track and field) and Tamika Catchings (basketball) and Paralympic medalist Melissa Stockwell (triathlon) to the council, among other athletes and people in the health and fitness fields, it was announced Friday.

Stephen and Ayesha Curry are also on the list.

The council “aims to promote healthy, accessible eating and physical activity for all Americans, regardless of background or ability.”

Last year, Biden appointed basketball gold medalist Elena Delle Donne a co-chair of the council.

Kim, the two-time reigning Olympic halfpipe champion, sat out this past season but is expected to return to competition for a third Olympic run in 2026.

Meyers Taylor, the most decorated U.S. Olympic bobsledder in history with medals in all five of her Olympic events, sat out this past season due to pregnancy. She took her first bobsled run in 13 months this past week in Lake Placid, New York.

There is a long history of Olympians and Paralympians serving on the council, which was created in 1956.

In 2017, Barack Obama appointed medalists including gymnast Gabby Douglas, soccer player Carli Lloyd and fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad.

Others to previously be on the council include sprinter Allyson Felix, figure skater Michelle Kwan and swimmer and triathlete Brad Snyder.

Members serve for two years and can be reappointed.

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Kaori Sakamoto wins figure skating worlds; top American places fourth


Kaori Sakamoto overcame a late error in her free skate to become the first Japanese figure skater to win back-to-back world titles and the oldest women’s world champion since 2014.

Sakamoto, 22, totaled 224.61 points on home ice in Saitama to prevail by 3.67 over Lee Hae-In of South Korea in the closest women’s finish at worlds since 2011.

Belgium’s Loena Hendrickx took bronze, edging 16-year-old American Isabeau Levito for a medal by 2.77 points.

Sakamoto is the oldest women’s singles world champion since Mao Asada (2014), who is now the only Japanese skater with more world titles than Sakamoto.

She appeared en route to an easier victory until singling a planned triple flip late in her free skate, which put the gold in doubt. She can be thankful for pulling off the second jump of that planned combination — a triple toe loop — and her 5.62-point lead from Wednesday’s short program.

“I feel so pathetic and thought, what was all that hard work I put into my training?” Sakamoto said of her mistake, according to the International Skating Union (ISU). “But I was able to refocus and do my best till the end.

“Because I have this feeling of regret at the biggest event of the season, I want to make sure I don’t have this feeling next season. So I want to practice even harder, and I want to make sure to do clean, perfect performances at every competition.”

Lee, who had the top free skate, became the second South Korean to win a world medal in any discipline after six-time medalist Yuna Kim.

Hendrickx followed her silver from last year, when she became the first Belgian women’s singles skater to win a world medal.

FIGURE SKATING WORLDS: Results | Broadcast Schedule

Levito, last year’s world junior champion, had a chance to become the youngest senior world medalist since 2014.

After a solid short program, she fell on her opening triple Lutz in the free skate and left points on the table by performing two jump combinations rather than three. The Lutz was planned to be the first half of a combination with a triple loop.

“I am severely disappointed because I’ve been nailing my Lutz-loop for a really long time, and this is the first time I’ve messed it up in a while, and of course it had to be when it actually counted,” Levito said, according to the ISU. “But I’m pretty happy with myself for just trying to move past it and focusing on making the most out of the rest of the program.”

Levito entered worlds ranked fourth in the field by best score this season. She matched the best finish for a U.S. woman in her senior global championships debut (Olympics and worlds) since Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan took silver and bronze at the 1991 Worlds. Sasha Cohen, to whom Levito is often compared, also placed fourth in her Olympic and world debuts in 2002.

“I feel very proud for myself and grateful for my coaching team for helping me get this far so far in my skating career, and I’m just very proud to be where I am,” Levito said on USA Network.

American Amber Glenn was 12th in her world debut. Two-time U.S. champion Bradie Tennell was 15th. They had been 10th and eighth, respectively, in the short program.

The U.S. qualified two women’s spots for next year’s worlds rather than the maximum three because the top two Americans’ results added up to more than 13 (Levito’s fourth plus Glenn’s 12th equaled 16). The U.S. was in position to qualify three spots after the short program.

Glenn said after the short program that she had a very difficult two weeks before worlds, including “out-of-nowhere accidents and coincidences that could have prevented me from being here,” and boot problems that affected her triple Axel. She attempted a triple Axel in the free skate, spinning out of an under-rotated, two-footed landing.

Tennell, who went 19 months between competitions due to foot and ankle injuries in 2021 and 2022, had several jumping errors in the free skate.

“This season has been like one thing after another,” said the 25-year-old Tennell, who plans to compete through the 2026 Winter Games. “I’m really excited to get back and work on some stuff for the new season.”

Earlier, Americans Madison Chock and Evan Bates topped the rhythm dance, starting their bid for a first world title in their 12th season together and after three prior world silver or bronze medals.

“We skated as best we possibly could today,” Bates said, according to the ISU, after they tallied the world’s top score this season.

Meryl Davis and Charlie White are the lone U.S. ice dancers to win a world title, doing so in 2011 and 2013.

Worlds continue Friday night (U.S. time) with the free dance, followed Saturday morning with the men’s free skate, live on Peacock and USA Network.

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