Pure Heroine: Chloe Kim wins X Games 2015 women’s superpipe gold

Written last night after the conclusion of X Games 2015 Women’s Superpipe finals.

Women’s X Games superpipe finals ended a half hour ago and I’m listening to “Royals” off Pure Heroine, Lorde’s debut album. At 18, Lorde is one of the most badass artists in the game. Her voice has a depth that only one who has lived a lifetime or two can express. So what does this have to do with Chloe Kim winning women’s superpipe at X Games? Everything. While Lorde was earning Grammys, 14-year-old Kim, a freshman in high school, was standing beside Kelly Clark on podiums worldwide — watching, learning, and waiting to take over that top position. Tonight, in front of a massive crowd at Buttermilk, Chloe not only secured X Games superpipe gold, beating Kelly Clark, the most decorated snowboarding competitor of all-time, she also became the youngest Winter X Games gold medalist to date.

That said this is no David & Goliath tale. Kelly took a star struck 12-year-old Chloe under her wing after she saw her ride Mammoth Mountain’s superpipe and was so impressed that she recommended Chloe as an addition to the Burton women’s team. Kelly continues to progress women’s pipe riding while also acting as a mentor to younger riders like Chloe Kim and Arielle Gold.


Torah Bright’s bronze medal run

Chloe took a rough fall in tonight’s practice and there was talk if she would pull out of the final. Kim told USSA correspondent and halfpipe veteran Tricia Byrnes, “I thought about pulling out, but then I was like I’m not gonna wait another year to do this. So I was like I’ll just huck it, I’ll go for it, that fall never happened and now I’m just really glad I made that decision.” Kelly, Chloe and Torah Bright all stomped their first runs in the final. Kelly’s run earned her top score after a massive frontside 1080, to a cab 720, into a tuck knee frontside air, backside 540, stalefish crippler 720 capped off with a method. After run two, Kelly was still in the lead with a 90-point score, Chloe on her heels in second with a 87.66 and Torah Bright in third place position with a 78.33. Run three Bright clipped the lip of the pipe on a beast of a first hit McTwist, while Arielle Gold landed a solid run, but remained in fourth. Cai Xuetong, Querallt Castellet, Hannah Teter and Elena Hight, who threw an alley-oop backside 360 Japan first hit that oozed style, all had bobbles third run and rounded out the top eight in this order.

Kelly Clark’s silver medal run

Much like the men’s final, riders who took the “less is more” approach seemed to catch the judges’ eyes. Chloe’s third run first hit switch method into a switch frontside nine, switch backside seven, McTwist, frontside 900 impressed those employed to be the toughest of critics and earned her a 92. Head judge, Tom Zikas, cited “technical, amplitude, switch method, cab 9, switch backside” as the “why?” for Chloe’s 2-point lead over Clark, when asked by X Games commentator Craig McMorris. As judged snowboarding competitions go, there was debate among some of the spectators on the scoring due to a hand-drag Kim had third hit of her winning run and whether a rider does five or six hits in a run should matter. Clark’s run had six hits and broke the women’s height record boosting 16-feet, 11 inches out of the 22-foot superpipe, while Kim’s run had five hits.

Chloe Kim’s gold medal run

Kelly had the coveted last-to-drop position and showed up with a giant frontside 1080, to a cab 720, into a tuck knee frontside air, backside 540, stalefish crippler 720, then ran out of pipe while attempting to put down a cab 1080 last hit. In the end, it was Chloe Kim’s night to cut her teeth on the icy halfpipe wall and wear the X Games gold — a reign that just may evolve women’s snowboarding one switch method at a time.

EPILOGUE
I reached out to a selection of snowboarding’s most iconic female riders for their perspective on the women’s superpipe final and newly awarded X Games gold medalist Chloe Kim:

“She’s sick! Amazing to watch her runs, but I think Kelly’s run deserved 1st. Chloe has a very bright future and I look forward to seeing a lot more from her.” – Tara Dakides

“The level that Kelly and Chloe are riding at is really next level. 1st and 2nd were so close in technicality, it must have been a hard call for the judges. I’m stoked to see how the rest of the season unfolds with so many riding so well. Also, cannot wait to watch Kelly stomp that cab 10, it’s so sick!” – Spencer O’Brien

“Chloe is a boss! So much style… She makes me wanna ride pipe!” – Jamie Anderson

“Okay that was amazing. The women are really pushing their limits to new heights where both style and technicality is strongly present! Love that Chloe won the X Games – Kind of unreal!!! I am also very impressed with Kelly, still pushing her riding with a freaking cab 1080! #inspired” – Kjersti Buaas

“I haven’t been watching any of X and I don’t even know who these kids are anymore! I’m so outta the loop! I haven’t ridden or opened a magazine or anything since I threw in the towel! Maybe if I can find a TV I’d watch and send you a laugh or two?!” – Janna Meyen-Weatherby

Read also: Beyond triple corks: An opinion on the current state of snowboarding big air

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