When all she needed to do was finish top 12 to qualify, Chloe Kim showed why she’s the favorite to win the women’s halfpipe snowboarding competition at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018.
After scoring a 91.50 on her first qualification run on Monday at Phoenix Snow Park, the 17-year-old from Torrance, California improved her score to a dominant 95.50 her second time down the challenging halfpipe that caused problems for many of her competitors.
China’s Liu Jiayu and Japan’s Haruna Matsumoto placed second and third respectively in qualification with scores of 87.75 and 84.25, while Kim’s teammate Maddie Mastro wasn’t far behind in fourth at 83.75.
Only the top 12 of 24 competitors qualified for Tuesday’s final, which will start at 10 a.m. local time (8 p.m. ET on Monday). Each competitor will get three runs in the final and only their top score will count.
Americans Kelly Clark, a five-time Olympian, and Arielle Gold, competing at her second Games, just made the cut to compete in the finals after finishing 11th and 12th, respectively.
Clark’s best score was 63.25, while Gold eked into the final with a 62.75. Both snowboarders recorded their best scores on their second runs. Clark has now made five straight Olympic finals.
Kim, who won both the halfpipe and slopestyle events at the 2016 Winter Youth Olympic Games, will be tough to beat, having also won halfpipe gold last month at the X Games for her fourth X Games gold medal.
At 34 years old, Clark is vying for her fourth Olympic medal. She won gold in 2002, finished fourth in 2006, and took bronze in both 2010 and 2014.
Laurence Heinen became a sportswriter after attending the 1988 Winter Games in his hometown of Calgary, Alberta, Canada. He is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.