By Jack Tarrant
PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (Reuters) - American teenager Chloe Kim lived up to expectations with a dominant performance during qualifying for the ladies snowboard halfpipe on Monday.
Kim, the Korean-American who has become the poster child for Pyeongchang 2018, looked superior to the rest of the field during both runs of qualifying. The 17-year-old scored the two highest runs of the day of 91.50 and 95.50 to finish in first place heading into Tuesday’s final.
The American, ranked first in the world coming into the Olympics, scored almost eight points more than her nearest rival Jiayu Liu of China.
However, Liu wasn’t focusing solely on the teenage sensation ahead of the final.
"There are lots of great athletes in this event," said Liu, who is competing in her third Olympics.
"It is going to come down to who can do something special on the day."
There was a nervous wait for Kim’s compatriots Kelly Clark and Arielle Gold as they waited to see whether they had finished in the top 12 and qualified for the final.
Clark, a three-time Olympic medalist, and Gold both qualified by the skin of their teeth, finishing 11th and 12th respectively.
There was mixed news for the Japanese team who came into the event with four women highly touted for success.
Haruna Matsumoto and Sena Tomita both qualified, but Hikaru Oe and Kurumi Imai both failed to get into the top 12.
Oe was left in tears as she faced the Japanese media scrum in the mixed zone afterwards and the world number eight will be devastated to miss out on the final.
The final begins at 1000 local time (0100 GMT) on Tuesday.
(Reporting by Jack Tarrant; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)