PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (AP) Snowboarder Chloe Kim was close to her best in leading the qualifying round of the women’s halfpipe at the Olympics on Monday. For that, she was off to get some ice cream .
American teammate Kelly Clark was nowhere near her best over her qualifying runs. Because of that, she had a long, drawn-out wait.
Clark advanced – barely. It was too close for comfort for the three-time Olympic medalist.
”Tomorrow is a new day,” said Clark, who finished in 11th place, with the top 12 advancing to the final on Tuesday. ”Today was a fluke.”
The blustery conditions that wreaked havoc across the way on the slopestyle course at the Pyeongchang Games played a factor on the halfpipe, as well. But more than anything, for Clark, nerves played a role. Not that that’s a bad thing.
”You know, if you didn’t get nervous you wouldn’t care enough,” Clark said. ”It still takes everything I have and requires all of me to be my best. I think more so than anything today, I’m disappointed I wasn’t able to be my best. You want to walk away having put down your best runs when it counts, and today I was unable to do that.”
Clark stumbled on the last trick of her first run and didn’t have her customary impeccable pass through the pipe on her second. No matter, she’s moving on, along with all of her teammates. Teenager Maddie Mastro was fourth and Arielle Gold grabbed the 12th and final spot.
The afternoon really belonged to Kim, the California teenager whose parents are from South Korea. She landed a superb first run and increased the difficulty on her second – posting a score of 95.50, which was quite a bit ahead of the next finisher, Liu Jiayu of China.
”I’m always more nervous in qualies,” Kim said. ”Now I can really focus on what I want to do. The pipe has been so good. I’m thankful the conditions have been so amazing.”
Immediately after finishing for the day, Kim said her plan was to go get ice cream despite the frigid conditions. Her favorite flavor: vanilla Swiss almond.
”But I’ll be OK with mango sorbet,” Kim said.
No ice cream for Clark. She was forlorn after her final run, sitting in ninth place with half the field still left to go and expecting the worst.
”Just made mistakes,” lamented Clark, who won gold at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games, and added bronze medals in 2010 and 2014. ”I had a really great practice, riding the best I’ve ridden all year. But it just didn’t go how I wanted it to go. … I’m riding at an extremely high level. Just wasn’t my day. Turns out, I’m human.”
Gold and Clark, along with U.S. snowboard halfpipe coach Rick Bower, anxiously watched as the final riders tried to bump the two Americans from the last spots.
”That was very nerve-racking. Not typical of those girls,” Bower said. ”They’re usually very consistent in qualifiers. A little bit of the nerves, a little bit of the wind got to them. Qualifiers are always much more intimidating for a lot of these girls than the finals. Two runs, if you don’t make it, it’s devastating.”
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