American Chloe Kim will attempt to defend her gold medal from 2018 when she takes center stage in the women’s halfpipe competition at the Beijing Winter Olympics beginning on Wednesday.
Kim and the rest of the field will begin qualifying runs on Wednesday (Tuesday night in the United States), with the finalists fighting for medals on Thursday.
Kim dominates women’s halfpipe landscape
The 21-year-old Kim has revolutionized women’s halfpipe, being the first to perform a number of complex tricks such as the frontside double cord 1080. She not only won gold in the 2018 Winter Olympics, but also owns two world championship golds, along with six more at the Winter X Games.
“She’s pushing the boundaries of what’s possible for women’s snowboarding,” retired American snowboarder Arielle Gold told Time. “She’s doing tricks that some of the men don’t even want to. It’s pretty crazy. She is the greatest women’s snowboarder of all time, by far.”
With a resume like that, Kim is a clear favorite to take home another gold medal. DraftKings Sportsbook lists her as the -250 top pick, well ahead of China’s Cai Xuetong (+600) and Spain’s Queralt Castellet (+800).
Kim could potentially blow away the competition by even more than those odds suggest. She has said she plans to unveil three new halfpipe tricks in Beijing, though she hasn’t given any details on what fans can expect.
“I’m so excited,” Kim told Time. “They’re an upgrade from everything I’ve done.”
Mastro among women pushing boundaries in Beijing
Kim isn’t the only American looking to push the envelope in Beijing. Maddie Mastro (+2500) will be among those fighting for a spot on the podium. She’ll make a run at a medal by trying to add tricks nobody has seen before – a common refrain among the top competitors in women’s halfpipe.
“My goals are double corks, which are something that we haven’t really explored for women yet in halfpipe,” Mastro told the On Her Turf podcast. “But the men do it. And I think [my wanting to do doubles] is kind of helping with the whole progression. Then it’ll directly hopefully correlate to women’s progression and pushing our sport more and more into that and having double courts involved.”
A total of 22 women will suit up for the qualifying runs in women’s halfpipe. After two qualifying runs, the top 12 will move on to the medal round, where each will have three runs to earn the best score possible. Only the top score in the final counts for the medal standings.
Other top competitors include Sena Tomita (+900) and Ruki Tomita (+1500) of Japan, along with China’s Liu Jiayu (+2000), who won silver behind Kim in the 2018 Winter Games.