Defending gold medalist Chloe Kim of the U.S. put down a relatively low-gear run Wednesday to lead women's halfpipe qualifying and advance to the final at the 2022 Winter Olympics.
The 21-year-old hit a cab 900 and a switch backside 540 on her opening run, at one point reaching nearly 13 feet in amplitude, to score an 87.75. She had an uncharacteristic fall on Run 2 attempting a switch backside 720, but her first score held up.
"I was really nervous my first run 'cause we're at the Olympics, but I'm so happy I put one down," Kim said. "I just wanted to mess around on my second run, try something I've never really done before, so I'm surprised I made it that far, but yeah, I'm stoked."
Kim's teammate and reigning world runner-up Maddie Mastro placed a stunning 13th – just short of the 12-rider cutoff – and failed to advance to the final. Her first run, assessed a 65.75, included a sketchy landing on an inverted 720. She then repeated two backside air tricks on the backside wall on Run 2 for a 51.50.
"I was not really stoked on that," Mastro said after her second run. "I did my first three hits, and they went well, and then, yeah, the rest of the run did not. I don't know what happened, it just didn't happen and – yeah, not so stoked on how that happened, but that's OK, on to the next."
Two-time world champion Cai Xuetong of China and 2020 X Games winner Queralt Castellet of Spain both moved on as the respective third- and fourth-place finishers. Castellet, coached by two-time Olympic silver medalist Danny Kaas, hit a big lien air for a 78.75, while Cai, known as "Tong Tong," scored an 83.25.
The women's final takes place Thursday morning, or 8:30 p.m. Wednesday ET.