PYEONGCHANG, South Korea — Gold medal already in hand and Olympic dream fully realized, Chloe Kim could have turned her third and final run in the women’s snowboarding final into a victory lap.
Only she didn’t. She couldn’t. Gold medals are nice and all, but to the 17-year-old star, the journey is the point, not the destination. It’s about proving something. Not to quiet whatever doubters may remain in a sport where she’s stamping herself as an all-time great as a teenager, but to herself.
“I knew that if I went home with a gold medal knowing I could do better, I wasn’t going to be satisfied,” Kim said.
That shouldn’t be a problem. Kim turned her coronation into an exclamation point, stomping a pair of 1080 spins (three complete turns), then practically diving into a hug with American teammate and bronze medal winner Arielle Gold to seal a moment four years in the making.
“I don’t really know what’s happening and I’m actually feeling a little anxious right now,” Kim said. “I’m a little overwhelmed. But this is the best outcome I could ever ask for and it’s been such a long journey. Ahhh, just going home with the gold is amazing.”
Competing in front of her extended family, a group that included her Korean-born parents and her South Korean grandmother, and apparently on an empty stomach — she actually tweeted during the competition that she was “hangry” after failing to finish her breakfast sandwich — Kim put on a show that delivered on her considerable pre-Olympic hype. She put together a 93.75 during her first run, one that included just one 1080, not the two that have become her trademark. No matter. The perfection-flirting third run provided a cathartic exclamation point.
“I knew that I did put down a really good first run, but I was also like, ‘I can do better than that. I can one up myself,’” Kim said.
Liu Jiayu took silver with an 89.75 to become the first Chinese snowboarder to medal at the Olympics. Gold, who pondered retirement last summer, overcame a dislocated shoulder suffered during training to edge teammate and three-time Olympic medalist Kelly Clark for third.