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Chloe Kim in ‘better place mentally’ after first runs at Beijing Games

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Chloe Kim is into the halfpipe final in Beijing, cruising through her first run with an 87.75 that was good enough to take the top spot in the qualifying round.

She turned up the intensity on her second run, but fell on her switch backside 720, which she then brushed off.

“I just wanted to mess around,” she said, “try something I’ve never really done before so I’m surprised I made it that far. But yeah, I’m stoked.”

Mitsuki Ono of Japan took second in qualifying while American Maddie Mastro finished just outside of the top 12 and will not advance to Thursday’s final.

After her two qualifying runs, Kim said that these Olympics are different from four years ago. The defending Olympic champion has been open about her mental health struggles, revealing she was at times overwhelmed by all of the attention. But it’s been different this time around for the 21-year-old.

“I feel like I’m in such a better place mentally and physically,” she told NBC after her runs. “I’m so grateful to be out here representing the U.S. I’m just so honored to be here.

“I’m just enjoying the moment. I don’t know how many more games I’m going to do, so I’m embracing the experience as much as possible.”