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From alley-oops to Chloe Kim: The progression of women’s snowboard halfpipe tricks

From alley-oops to Chloe Kim: The progression of women’s snowboard halfpipe tricks
Posted at 2:35 PM, Feb 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-09 18:53:39-05

It’s 1998. Snowboarding has just been added to the Winter Olympics in Nagano. The sport is still gaining popularity and credibility and losing its rebellious reputation. The Nagano halfpipe mirrors that of a skate halfpipe: relatively short with walls that measure 11.5 feet tall and 394 feet long. Germany’s Nicola Thost throws down a winning run consisting of a frontside alley-oop and backside 540.

Who would’ve guessed that Chloe Kim would need to land two back-to-back 1080s to secure gold 20 years later?

Check out how the tricks have progressed through the years.

Nagano 1998: Nicola Thost

Women’s halfpipe made its debut at the 1998 Winter Olympics. Unlike at recent Winter Games, athletes were not judged on amplitude. The halfpipe measured half the size of the 22-foot halfpipe walls that became standard starting at the 2010 Winter Olympics. Due to the difference in height and sport’s novelty, there were few tricks with rotations, so athletes like Thost focused on board grabs, style and direction rather than height and rotations.

Trick list:

  • Frontside alley-oop
  • Backside 540

Salt Lake City 2002: Kelly Clark

Clark secured the United States’ first gold medal in women’s snowboard halfpipe after landing a run that focused on style and a variety of grabs. She was able to put down a frontside 720 because the halfpipe walls grew to 14.75 feet high, giving Clark more amplitude.

Trick list:

  • Frontside air
  • Indy
  • Frontside 540
  • Backside air
  • Stalefish
  • McTwist
  • Frontside 720

SEE MORE: Salt Lake 2002: Kelly Clark wins gold in snowboard halfpipe

Torino 2006: Hannah Teter

The 2006 Winter Olympics was the last time that runs consisting of mostly straight airs, grabs and single 360-degree rotations earned a gold medal. Teter stomped a frontside 900, her signature trick, after becoming the first woman to land it in a halfpipe competition in 2002. Her 900 signified the discipline’s progression towards adding more rotations to tricks.

Trick list:

  • Frontside 540
  • Backside air
  • Frontside 900
  • Indy
  • Frontside 360
  • Cab 540

SEE MORE: Torino 2006: USA's Teter, Bleiler go 1-2 in women's halfpipe

Vancouver 2010: Torah Bright

Although the Olympic halfpipe walls grew to the now-standard 22 feet, the 900 was absent from Australian Bright’s winning run. Regardless, performing two 720s, one switch backside and one switch frontside, in the same run was astounding. Landing the same rotating trick in different directions is technically difficult and can be harder to stomp than a single frontside trick with an extra half rotation.

Trick list:

  • Backside 360
  • Switch backside 720
  • Backside 540
  • Air to fakie
  • Cab 720

Sochi 2014: Kaitlyn Farrington

The 2014 Winter Olympics was a turning point in women’s snowboard halfpipe history. It was the first time that the gold medal-winning run only included tricks with degree rotations measuring 540 degrees or higher. American gold-medalist Farrington was the first woman to include a cork at the Games, setting the stage for athletes to compete with more corks.

Trick list:

  • Switch backside 720
  • Backside 900
  • Alley-oop 540
  • Backside 540
  • Frontside cork 720

SEE MORE: Sochi 2014: Kaitlyn Farrington delivers winning halfpipe run

PyeongChang 2018: Chloe Kim

The world was anticipating gold medalist Kim’s riding in PyeongChang. She didn’t disappoint. Kim would’ve won the gold medal with her first run, but she instead returned with an even higher scoring victory lap. She’s the first woman to land consecutive 1080s, one frontside and one switch frontside (also known as cab), at the Olympics. Her progression is bringing women's tricks closer, in terms of rotations, to the tricks the men are throwing down. The 1080s, McTwist and Haakon flip solidified the need for gold medal contenders to put down multiple tricks with higher degree rotations like Kim’s back-to-back 1080 and frontside 900 combination.

Trick list:

  • Frontside 1080
  • Cab 1080
  • Frontside 900
  • McTwist
  • Haakon flip (cab 720)

SEE MORE: PyeongChang 2018: Chloe Kim hits back-to-back 1080s for gold

Women's snowboard halfpipe has come a long way since Thost's gold-winning alley-oop. Although Kim has not needed to pull out her consecutive 1080s in competition since 2018, she may need to at the women’s snowboard halfpipe final, where she’s up against China’s Liu Jiayu, who placed second in PyeongChang.

The women's snowboard halfpipe final takes place Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. ET. Watch on NBCOlympics.com, the NBC Sports App and Peacock.

SEE MORE: How to watch Chloe Kim at the 2022 Winter Olympics on NBC and Peacock

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