Golden again: Chloe Kim claims second snowboard halfpipe world title; Totsuka Yuto beats Scotty James

Olympic champ Kim was at her best inside the pipe, as Totsuka stopped James' worlds run. China's Gu Ailing Eileen became first freeskier to win two events at worlds in same year.

By Nick McCarvel
Picture by 2021 Getty Images

Go big or go home.

That was the motto for PyeongChang 2018 gold medallist Chloe Kim, the American capturing the snowboard halfpipe world title Saturday in Aspen at the FIS Snowboard and Freestyle Ski World Championships.

It was much the same for Japan's Totsuka Yuto, who hit a 96.25 in his final run after taking the lead in run two, denying Australia's Scotty James a record fourth consecutive world title and taking the mantle as the de facto one-to-beat in the men's snowboard halfpipe.

It's a second world title in a row for Kim, who won her sixth X Games gold medal on the same pipe just a few weeks ago. She opened her final with 90-point plus run, leading after the first (of three) final attempts down the pipe and never looked back in a competitive field. Kim won with a 93.75.

Kim's American teammate Maddie Mastro, the 2019 world bronze medallist, won silver, scoring an 89.00 on her final run. Spain's Queralt Castellet threw down on her last run, too, earning bronze with a 87.50.

"Winning feels pretty good," a smiling Kim told FIS after her win. "I'm grateful to be out here. I had so much fun today."

Kim said she overcame a sprained ankle from training, competing through the pain.

Totsuka Yuto scores third win over James

The drama of the day came in the men's event, where James, the three-time and reigning world champ, had taken the lead after the first run. But Totsuka was just getting warmed up, he moved into first with a 93.00 in his second run, James falling in an attempt to match that.

Totsuka would only up the ante in his final attempt, hitting a monster 96.25. James - going down the pipe just after Totsuka's run - couldn't rise to the occasion, crashing out mid-run and earning the silver medal, having won gold in 2015, 2017 and 2019. It's a first world title for the the 19 year old from Japan, who had wins over James in Laax and at the X Games Aspen already this season.

In limited English, his joy was clear: "I'm happy now, a dream come true," he told FIS. "I had fun."

James had notched a 90.50 on his first run for his best score. Jan Scherrer of Switzerland won bronze, scoring a 87.00.

"Ideally, every single time you want to finish at the top of the podium," James had recently told Olympic Channel about his X Games loss. "You know, it was it was definitely tough."

The world result will be much the same to digest.

Chloe Kim: Back with a vengeance

In the women's event, Kim came out firing with a 90.00 in her first run, putting her in first position, then backed that up with a 93.75 in run two. She was last to go in the final run, but her victory had been sealed as Mastro and Castellet had not been able to catch her with their last attempts.

"I'm feeling really good - I'm so happy to be out here," Kim said. "I sprained my ankle in practice, so it's been a little challenging."

Kim could be seen visibly limping between her runs, an injury that didn't fully derail her worlds efforts.

It's the latest in a series of golds for Kim, who took a year away from the sport to study at Princeton. She returned in January and has now captured three golds in 2021, less than a year out from Beijing 2022.

Freeski slopestyle: Ragettli, Gu claim world titles

Earlier, in the freeski slopestyle finals, Switzerland's Andri Ragettli edged out American Colby Stevenson, the 1-2 going 90.65 and 89.55, respectively. Alexander Hall of the U.S. finished third, scoring a 86.01.

For the women, China's Gu Ailing Eileen captured her second world title in two days, having won the freeski halfpipe on Friday. Her 84.23 was over seven points clear of 2018 Olympic silver medallist Mathilde Gremaud of Switzerland in second, scoring 77.15, while Megan Oldham of Canada captured the bronze with a 76.18.

Gu is the first ever freeskier to win two golds at the same world championships.

"I took a biggish fall during training and [it] shook up my confidence a little bit and wasn’t sure how good I was going to feel during the contest," Gu told FIS after her win. "To come back and be able to land my full run makes me really proud of myself to be able to push through that pressure and self-doubt."

Ragettli, a five-time X Games medallist, won his first world medal on Saturday.

"This is a big day for me. It was a goal for me," he said. "Last world championships I was injured. I missed it. So feels good to be back."