Snowboard

Chloe Kim 'nervous' and 'excited' to compete again

The Olympic halfpipe champion returns to competition in Laax, Switzerland, after taking the 2019/20 season off to study at Princeton University and recover from a broken ankle.

By Alessandro Poggi ·

Chloe Kim is set for a comeback in style.

The Olympic halfpipe champion is returning this week to a World Cup competition for the first time since March 2019, but the break from snowboarding doesn't seem to have affected her.

After resuming training in October, the 20-year-old American is honing her killer skills once more.

In the women's semi-final at the 2021 Laax Open, Switzerland, Kim topped the standings with 94.00 points ahead of the finals on Saturday.

Her closest rivals, Japan's Ono Mitsuki and Spain's Queralt Castellet, scored 90.00 and 87.50 respectively.

“I’m excited to finally be able to compete again,” the 2019 world champion told U.S. Ski & Snowboard ahead of the event.

“I feel a little nervous, but at the same time, I am feeling really confident." - Chloe Kim

"I want to do my best and have fun.

"Laax always has a perfect pipe for me to put runs together and learn new tricks. That’s all I am thinking about!"

On this pipe 11 years ago, Chloe made her international breakthrough winning the Burton European Open aged only 9.

Chloe Kim's still got it!

Olympic halfpipe champion Chloe Kim has only resumed training in October 20...

'Impressive' comeback

Despite taking the 2019-20 season off to attend Princeton University, it didn't take long for the 5-time X-Games gold medallist to find her flow and get her tricks down.

“I got ‘em all back. They’re good. They’re chilling,” she told NBC Sports.

“I’ve been doing this for so long. It was just all muscle memory.”

“I’m really happy with where I’m at right now, definitely doing a lot better than I thought I was going to be.” - Chloe Kim

Kim, who broke her ankle at the 2019 Burton U.S. Open, was understandably anxious before her highly-anticipated return to competition.

However she overcame her fears and surprised even her longtime coach.

“I was expecting her to be successful and have a relatively easy time coming back, but what I witnessed first-hand was very impressive, to say the least," U.S. coach Rick Bower said after watching the halfpipe queen train in Saas-Fee, on the Swiss Alps, and most recently in Copper Mountain, Colorado.

“The whole situation surprised me. She came and was riding, in some cases, better than she was when she left," - U.S. coach Rick Bower to NBC Sports.

The coach that guided her since the 2014-15 season was astonished by Kim's ability to resume her old tricks:

"It was pretty seamless how she just checked off her trick list. It was basically a best-case scenario. Go up there one day, and she would do more than I thought she would do, and the next day she would do even more.”

Studying and singing: A healthy break

In 2019 Kim took her first break since she turned pro at the age of 12.

She moved from California to New Jersey to focus on her studies in Princeton, where she took up classes in French, biology and music.

The American enjoyed her freshman year and said she eventually plans to return to school, probably after Beijing 2022.

“It definitely is nice to know that I made so many amazing friends who are so incredibly smart,” Kim told NBCSports.

“I didn’t want to regret not doing certain things when I was older, so I thought that taking the season off was going to be really good for me mentally.”

“I love snowboarding so much, and I love competing and pushing myself and learning all of these tricks, but I think when I went to school I realised that’s not the only thing I’m going to do for the rest of my life,” Chloe Kim to NBCSports.

In the last few months, the halfpipe star also competed on the TV singing contest "The Masked Singer", where she stunned panelists and fans performing Rihanna's hit "Stay".

She admitted that these experiences took some pressure off her back, but now she's fully focused on snowboarding again:

"I want to keep doing this for as long as I can."

Chloe Kim during the Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Sports event in July 2019.