By Deborah Olsen
Gold, silver and bronze: Steamboat Springs’ snowboarder Arielle Gold, 16, is collecting precious medals.
One of the youngest competitors on the international circuit, Gold came on strong this winter, taking the podium at three of the worlds’ top events, in just as many weeks.
In mid-January, she became the second-youngest female snowboarder to win the halfpipe World Championships in Quebec. A week later, slated as an alternate, Gold secured a last-minute spot on the eight-woman roster at the Aspen X-Games and took the bronze. Then she went on to Park City, where she finished second in the Sprint Grand Prix.
“It’s crazy,” Gold says. “It’s really overwhelming.”
Due to an anomaly in the snowboarding world, the X-Games, not the World Championships, is the sport’s premier event. Media coverage, prize money and sponsorship potential contribute to the X-Games’ appeal.
Gold, the daughter of Ken and Patty Gold, has been riding since she was 7, first with the Steamboat Ski & Ride program, then with coaches Jo Rolls and Ashley Berger at the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club. She joined the U.S. Snowboard Team three years ago.
During her first years on a board, Gold rode in the pipe and the terrain park as well as running the alpine gates. But as her competitive career began to develop, she chose one discipline as her specialty: the halfpipe.
That choice is serving her well. In addition to collecting medals, Gold is also collecting passport stamps.
As an up-and-coming U.S. winter athlete, Gold heads to Sochi, Russia, this spring. While the U.S. Olympic Team will not be determined until next winter, her invitation to join this year’s Russia contingency could be a prelude of things to come.
Advice from Arielle
On surmounting the halfpipe: Carry a lot of speed when you drop into the pipe and try not to press too hard on the edge of the board on your way up the wall.
Favorite Steamboat run on a powder day: Buddy’s Run, with its great views, sweeping turns and lots of vert. “I love riding the powder. It’s an awesome break,” she says.
Summer training: Gold jumps on the trampoline at Bald Eagle Lake, but hasn’t ever launched off the water ramps. (Maybe this summer?)
On Maverick’s Superpipe: Steamboat’s got a decent pipe, but it’s four feet smaller than most competition pipes. It’s an 18-foot pipe, while competitions are moving toward 22-foot pipes.
Newest trick: Cab 900 (Switch 900 rotation)
Next stops: (As of press time) Lochs, Switzerland, and Sochi, Russia