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Chloe Kim wins halfpipe world title, attempts double

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There wasn’t much for Chloe Kim to add to her resume.

But at the World Championships in Park City, Utah, on Friday, the 18-year-old managed yet another milestone, adding a world title to a list of accolades that includes an Olympic gold medal and five X Games titles.

 

 

Kim clinched the title on her first run with a score of 93.50, leading the field by nearly 10 points. She upped the level of difficulty in her third run, attempting a frontside double cork 1080, but did not stay on her feet. China’s Cai Xuetong, the 2017 world champion, finished second, and American Maddie Mastro placed third for her first medal at the World Championships.

Despite her dominance over the rest of the field, Kim tends to focus more on progression than easy victory laps: at the Olympics, she had a gold medal secured with her first run score of 93.75, but put down an even more difficult third run – including back-to-back 1080s – to increase her score to 98.25.

Kim, who said she was “stoked” about her performance, spoke with NBC’s Tina Dixon after the competition about her attempt to land the double. In October, she became the first woman to do it in the halfpipe during training, but has not yet executed it in competition.

“I was really nervous,” she said. “[I] landed my first run super clean…[and] the second run was kind of a setup for the double. I think the next contest hopefully I’ll be able to do it. I’m stoked I tried it and glad I’m walking away in one piece.”

Kim, who dominated the field to win gold in PyeongChang, hasn’t lost a competition in over a year, winning the US Open to end last season and topping the field at the Dew Tour and the X Games earlier this season.

She plans to swap technical tricks for textbooks in the fall as part of the Princeton University Class of 2023.

PyeongChang bronze medalist Scotty James won the world title in men’s halfpipe. The Australian has continued to deliver since the Olympics, where he finished behind Shaun White and Ayumu Hirano: he won a second X Games title last month and defended his 2017 world title in Park City with a technical run that included two 1260s and his signature amplitude.

Japan’s Yuto Totsuka placed second, and Pat Burgener of Switzerland finished third. American Toby Miller, an 18-year-old from Mammoth Lakes, California, finished just off the podium in fourth.

Coverage of the World Freestyle Skiing and Snowboarding Championships continues tonight with moguls, live at 9 p.m. on NBCSN.

 

 

American Mick Dierdorff wins world title in snowboard cross

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Mick Dierdorff kicked off a World Championships on home soil with a win in snowboard cross on Friday in Solitude, Utah.

The 27-year-old won each of his heats en route to a victory at his first World Championships after grabbing an early lead in the final. No American man had won a world title in snowboard cross since Seth Wescott did so in 2005.

“That was the best day of my life right there,” Dierdorff said in an interview with NBC’s Tina Dixon after the race. “…This is a moment I’ve dreamed about.”

Dierdorff, who grew up in Colorado Springs, made his Olympic debut in 2018, finishing fifth. He balanced two professions in the lead-up to the Olympics, framing houses part-time while training for the Games.

The Americans brought a strong contingent to Solitude with Dierdorff, three-time Olympians Nick Baumgartner and Nate Holland and up-and-coming talent Jake Vedder. Vedder finished fifth, Baumgartner was eliminated in the quarterfinals, and Holland did not advance from the round of 32.

Five-time world champion Lindsey Jacobellis fell short of a sixth title in women’s snowboard cross after losing speed in the semi-final and failing to advance, ultimately finishing fifth.

The World Freestyle Skiing and Snowboarding Championships continue tomorrow with ski cross at 3 p.m. and freestyle skiing big air at 9 p.m., both live on Olympic Channel.

 

 

Three-time Olympic medalist Kelly Clark to retire

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Kelly Clark’s dad once told her she could be anything she wanted to be.

When Clark said she wanted to be a professional snowboarder, he replied, “anything but that.”

Clark’s dad ultimately came around and watched his daughter become one of the sport’s most accomplished athletes, winning three Olympic medals and paving the way for others who would follow her. Clark, 35, announced her retirement plans Friday morning through Burton, her sponsor.

Born in Newport, Rhode Island, Clark grew up in West Dover, Vermont. Her father had her on skis at age two, and after some pestering, her mother bought Clark her first board when Clark was eight.

Ten years later, Clark was the youngest member of the U.S. snowboarding team at the 2002 Salt Lake Games. Despite a hard fall during practice that left her with a bruised tailbone and broken wrist, Clark scored a 47.9 out of 50 on her second run to win the first U.S. gold medal of the Salt Lake Games.

Clark fell short of a medal at the 2006 Torino Games after attempting a difficult trick, then won her second medal in Vancouver, a bronze. At the 2014 Sochi Games, her lead-up wasn’t ideal: Clark fell in all five runs in practice and in her first run in competition, but she successfully executed a 1080 in run two, which earned her a bronze medal. Clark later said, “I wouldn’t say it was my best snowboarding, [but] it’s probably one of my greatest achievements…it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but one of the most rewarding.”

In 2016, Clark suffered the first serious injury of her career, tearing her hamstring and the labrum in her hip at the X Games in Europe. After surgery, she was bedridden for a month, which left plenty of time for reflection. Clark adopted a golden retriever, started working on a book, and re-evaluated what she still wanted to accomplish on the pipe. Clark said later in 2016, “I guess a lot of people ask me, ‘what are you still doing here?’ If it was about winning things, I probably should have stopped a long time ago. I’m motivated by the potential that I have…I still feel like I’ve got some snowboarding to do that’s better than the snowboarding I’ve done.”

Clark missed a medal at her final Olympics, finishing fourth in PyeongChang. She watched one of the women she inspired win gold, just as she had done as a wide-eyed teenager in 2002. Years earlier, a pint-sized Chloe Kim tugged on Clark’s sleeve while waiting in line for the chairlift at Mammoth Mountain, asking if she could ride up with her. Clark obliged, and the two took a few runs together. The similarities between their snowboarding styles were easy to see: they shared an affinity for amplitude, speed, and a seemingly fearless approach to the pipe.

It’s safe to assume Clark won’t be taking it easy in retirement: she runs the Kelly Clark Foundation, which helps young snowboarders through scholarships and financial aid, and she’s launching a specialized women’s snowboard with Burton, her sponsor.

Clark’s career was full of milestones: she’s one of four snowboarders with three Olympic medals, the most of any athlete in the sport. She is one of only two American women to compete in five winter Olympics (along with cross-country skier Kikkan Randall), and she was the first female snowboarder to compete in five Games.

But Clark had more in mind for her legacy than contest results and podium finishes. Making the sport better – and inspiring the next generation – has always been her mission.

“There’s been a lot of women over the years that have progressed the sport, and I hope that I’ve been one of them,” she said in 2016. “To a place where there isn’t as big of a progression gap between men and women.”