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Team USA kiss the sky at Hafjell Freepark with two gold medals

How do you stop an athlete like the USA’s Chloe Kim? Already a gold medallist following her victory in the ladies’ halfpipe, she matched that feat in the ladies’ slopestyle. To her peers, she’s the best rider in the world right now.

The worrying news for anyone hoping to match her is that Kim has only just started: she is 15 years old; hers is a career already nosegrabbing at the highest altitudes.

“She’s so stylish, she’s amazing,” said Finland’s silver medallist, Elli Pikkujamsa, who will later join up with the national ladies’ U-17 football team, where she plays as a defender.

“Given the choice between snowboarding and football? I don’t know,” she said. “That’s impossible! It’s so fun to ride.”

© YIS / IOC Bob Martin

Kim’s victories appear effortless. She navigated the Hafjell Freepark with ease, gaining more air and more momentum than any other rider.

“Today was the first time I hit the big jumps,” she said. “I showed up and the jumps were pretty mellow. I’m super-stoked.”

Kim’s equivalent in the men’s snowboard slopestyle event is Jake Pates, who now has two Winter YOG gold medals. His first-place finish in the men’s halfpipe snowboard competition in Oslo was followed up here with another victory.

The USA's Jake Pates in action during the men's slopestyle contest at Hafjell Freepark. Photo: YIS / IOC Bob Martin

“Did I expect two medals here? Not at all,” he said. “Slopestyle is fun, but I’m not as good as I am on the halfpipe.

“My training for it? I have a programme that I’m doing, and we’re in the gym. You know, you’re training as long as you’re riding every day, and getting feedback after.”

When he’s not tearing up the slopes of Hafjell, Pates has spent time in the Youth Olympic Village indulging in his other passion: hip hop. In a recent interview, the 17-year-old described himself as “a wannabe rapper”. Anyone hoping for a Lillehammer-related rap opus will be disappointed, however. “I haven’t been writing any lyrics while I’ve been here,” he said. “But I’m definitely jamming to some music. I’ve been listening to some Drake, some A$AP Rocky. “I mix it up with Jimi Hendrix. It gets me pumped up and ready to go.”


Matt Allen is a reporter for the Lillehammer Youth Information Service ‘YIS’. Author of the international bestselling Usain Bolt autobiography Faster Than Lightning, Matt is a sports and music journalist whose articles have appeared in publications such as Total Sport, Esquire, Men’s Health, GQ and FourFourTwo.

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