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Snowboard sensation Chloe Kim makes Winter Games debut

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (UPI) — U.S. snowboard sensation Chloe Kim made a successful Winter Games debut in her parents’ land as she reached the finals in the women’s halfpipe as the top qualifier.

American Chloe Kim competes in the ladies halfpipe qualification at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics at the Phoenix Snow Park in Pyeongchang, South Korea, on Monday. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI)

Born to Korean immigrants in the United States, Chloe scored 95.50 points in her second qualifying run and claimed the top position among 24 halfpipe competitors at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics at Phoenix Snow Park in Pyeongchang, South Korea. She had 91.50 in her first qualifying run. She was the only rider who scored more than 90 points in both runs.

Following Chloe was Liu Jiayu of China at 87.75, and Haruna Matsumoto of Japan at 84.25. South Korea’s Kwon Sun-oo failed to make the cut as she finished 20th.

At the Pyeongchang Olympics, 24 snowboarders have to go through two runs to earn one of the 12 spots in the finals, with each competitor’s best single run counting.

“I’m always more nervous on qualifiers, so tomorrow, I think I can really focus on what I want to do,” Chloe said of her qualifying runs. “The pipes have been so good. I’m so thankful that the condition has been amazing.”

Chloe, the first female snowboarder to land back-to-back 1080s in competition, said she felt really good about her second run.

“I’ve been really trying to clean up all the little details and I think I just did that, so I’m really excited,” she said.”

Chloe is one of the most anticipated athletes here at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, due to her extraordinary performances in international competitions, including her two gold medals at the 2015 Youth Olympic Games. The 17-year-old, also a four-time X Games champion, tops the International Ski Federation Snowboard halfpipe rankings.

Her father, Kim Jong-jin, said Monday that watching his daughter’s performance was nerve-wracking. He was with his wife, two other daughters and Chloe’s aunt at Phoenix Snow Park for the competition.

“At first, I didn’t really think about the Olympics seriously, because you see the same old athletes there,” Kim said. “But yesterday, I just couldn’t get to sleep. It’s really nail-biting to watch the qualifiers because one fall can ruin it all.”

This was Chloe’s first Winter Olympics as she wasn’t able to compete at the Sochi Winter Games four years ago due to her young age, even though she was considered one of the top medal contenders in the halfpipe event.

The final round, consisting of three runs, will start Tuesday. Each contestant’s best score from the three runs will count to determine their final standings.

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Snowboard sensation Chloe Kim makes Winter Games debut