Kelly Clark, Chloe Kim are top two women in halfpipe snowboarding, friendly rivals

Clark and Kim will meet again Saturday at Vail's Burton U.S. Open

By Jason Blevins
The Denver Post

POSTED:   03/04/2016 08:18:34 PM MST

Chloe Kim get a spectacular view of the Vail superpipe during the woman's halfpipe semifinals at the Burton U.S. Open on Thursday.(Townsend Bessent, Vail Daily)

VAIL — The two women who dominate snowboarding battle regularly in the halfpipe as they rotate positions on the podium, but outside of competition, Kelly Clark and Chloe Kim count each other as friends, as well as motivators.

"It's easy to create some kind of rivalry story, but that's not what snowboarding is about, and as long as we are leading it, I think the camaraderie will remain in the mix," said Clark, who at age 32 remains the undisputed queen of the sport.

Clark and Kim, who each boasts big wins this season, will meet again Saturday at Vail's Burton U.S. Open in the final big contest of a memorable season.

Kim, born the year Clark first started competing, is storming the halfpipe, having missed only one podium finish in more than 20 events since she won silver in the Aspen X Games in 2014.

In many ways, Kim is a Clark protégé, a spring-legged aerialist whose back-to-back 1080s in the halfpipe have carried Clark's pioneering, first-ever frontside 1080 to the next level.

"I've always looked up to Kelly's riding but especially her as a person. She is one of the most successful women snowboarders, and she is an amazing person," said Kim, who turns 16 next month. "When I first met Kelly, she really took me under her wing and was really helpful."

Last month, the ever-smiling Kim tried that ridiculously difficult sequence of 1080s in her second run down the pipe at the Park City Grand Prix. (She had landed the series of spins only once in training.) She crashed. Clark put her arm around Kim's shoulders at the finish corral.

"She said 'Yo, you just have to commit, you know,' " Kim said.

The next run, Kim made history, linking two 1080s for the first time ever in a women's snowboarding competition, scoring a perfect 100.

Clark swelled with pride when she saw Kim stick those tricks. She was happy for Kim — and she was thrilled for snowboarding.

"I truly celebrated in her victory that day. I was happy for the sport. It was a really cool moment," Clark said.

Kim was competing in Park City a week after winning her second consecutive gold in Aspen's X Games halfpipe, becoming the first X Games athlete to win two golds before the age of 16. Kim said she hopes to someday serve as a mentor much as Clark has done for her.

Click here to be taken to The Denver Post