Chloe Kim wins again in Aspen halfpipe, defends her world championship crown
Maddie Mastro won silver and Queralt Castellet bronze
Even Chloe Kim is capable of a bad run from time to time. Hoping to finish with a bang Saturday, she came out sloppy on her third and final trip through the halfpipe and had to admit defeat a couple of hits in, easily the most disappointing run of her weekend.
It was just a victory lap, so not like it was the end of the world for the 20-year-old California superstar. Kim still won the women’s snowboard halfpipe contest at the world championships on Saturday at Buttermilk Ski Area in Aspen, successfully defending her title from two years ago in Utah.
“It feels really good,” Kim said. “This season I just wanted to land runs and not take it too seriously, but it’s honestly been working in my favor. I’m super happy and just grateful to be here.”
Kim, the reigning Olympic champion, sat out the entire 2019-20 season to focus on her Princeton studies before returning this winter amid the pandemic. The time away has hardly seemed to matter, with Kim winning all three contests she’s competed in this season. This includes the Laax Open and X Games Aspen in January. She’s even led both qualifiers she’s had to drop into.
Kim’s run at worlds on Saturday looked a little different than before, as she is playing around with new tricks that could find a way into her Olympic run ahead of the 2022 Winter Games in China.
“I’ve been doing the same run for almost six years now, so I was getting really sick of it. So I was thinking about what I wanted to try and do differently,” Kim said. “The Olympics are next season, so definitely nervous about that. But I think I just want to keep working on my consistency and continue to have fun.”
Despite tweaking her ankle in training, Kim made it look effortless on Saturday, scoring 90 on her first run and 93.75 on her second before her messy but playful victory lap at the end.
California’s Maddie Mastro came through when it mattered the most on her third and final run, scoring 89 in one of her best career runs to win silver. Mastro, 21, won bronze at worlds in 2019, when China’s Xuetong Cai won silver to Kim’s gold.
Mastro also finished second to Kim at X Games this year, the first time the Mammoth riders have finished 1-2 on the X Games Aspen podium together.
“To have all that energy built up and to have that be the outcome is an amazing feeling that nothing can really compare to. That’s what we work for,” Mastro said of delivering on her final run. “It’s something I’ve been building toward all season and I’m going to try and continue to build off that run, but that was definitely something I’ve been wanting to do and I’m glad to put it down and keep working from here.”
Winning bronze Saturday was Spain’s Queralt Castellet, who at 31 was the oldest competitor in the contest. She scored 87.50 on her final run for her second medal at worlds in seven appearances. She also won worlds silver at the 2015 competition in Austria.
“I’m really enjoying this path. I’m really having fun and I’m loving it,” Castellet said of being one of the older riders and making the podium. “I was so stoked about it. It was nerve-wracking. I had a very good practice, which sometimes is good but sometimes it just doesn’t work when it counts. … Perhaps not as clean as I wanted at the top, but I was so stoked to have done a run that gave me third place.”
Four of the eight finalists on Saturday were Japanese, with Sena Tomita finishing in fourth (86.50), Haruna Matsumoto in fifth (77.25), Mitsuki Ono in sixth (74.50) and Kurumi Imai in eighth (64.25). Canada’s Elizabeth Hosking was seventh (70.50).