Snowboard

Olympic champs Kim and White expected to return to snowboarding at Laax Open

The American pair have each had the longest competitive breaks from snowboarding of their careers.

By ZK Goh ·

Olympic champions Chloe Kim and Shaun White are both set to return to competitive snowboarding next week after the longest breaks of their careers.

Kim, the youngest halfpipe Olympic champion, and three-time Olympic gold medallist White have not competed since March 2019 and February 2018 respectively.

Both Americans are on the entry list for next week's Snowboard World Cup stop in Laax, Switzerland.

College break for Chloe Kim

Since Kim's last event, the U.S. Open at the tail end of the 2018/19 season, she has taken time off for her college studies at Princeton University.

In July, she admitted that she had "got kind of bored" of snowboarding "and just needed to switch it up", but has since asked for and received a leave of absence from Princeton to resume competing.

At that U.S. Open outing in 2019, Kim broke her ankle, which made the decision to take a break for her.

"I needed to experience more, and I really wanted to experience school," she explained on the Just Women's Sports podcast. "And I got into a really great school and I just thought that would be a perfect opportunity, because I also had broken my ankle the season after the Olympics, so I was like, I'm going to let this heal while I go to school."

Now, the fire is back.

"I'm a little nervous, but I've been training, and everything's been going really well, so I'm feeling pretty confident," Kim said this week in quotes reported by NBC Sports.

"Laax always has the most perfect kind of pipe, and it's like one of the best places to put runs together, even ;earn tricks."

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White's failed Tokyo 2020 qualification attempt

White, meanwhile, hasn't competed on snow since winning gold at PyeongChang 2018 nearly three years ago.

The summer of that year, the Torino, Vancouver, and PyeongChang Olympic champion announced he would attempt to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 debut of skateboarding.

White attended the Park World Championships in São Paulo in September 2019, but failed to make it out of the semi-finals where he was 13th. He had said he would make a final call on trying to qualify for Tokyo following those World Championships.

Although White is a five-time X Games skateboard champion, those wins came in vert skateboarding rather than park, one of the two Olympic disciplines. "Park skating is new for me. It's been difficult to take my tricks from the big ramp and bring it into the bowl," he said in Brazil.

Last March, he admitted defeat in his bid to make it to Tokyo, announcing he would turn his attention back to the snow.

"The decision became less about going for skate and more about, am I willing to walk away from snow?

"I didn't feel comfortable with it, and I can't wholeheartedly choose this path with what I've got going on snow," he told the AP.

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Although he is on the start list, White has yet to confirm his attendance at the Laax Open, where last year's Snowboard Park & Pipe World Cup champion Scotty James will also be in action.

Both Kim and White are also among the athletes who have been invited to compete at the Winter X Games in Aspen, Colorado, the week after.