Arielle Gold closes in on second Olympic bid

Joel Reichenberger
Steamboat Today

It’s still not official, and Arielle Gold did miss an opportunity Saturday night under the lights at Mammoth Mountain Resort, California to make it that way, to stomp her landing, if you will.

But, barring a major curveball of a decision, Gold is headed back to the Olympics.

The Steamboat Springs halfpipe snowboarder placed fourth in a U.S. Snowboarding Grand Prix event. A win would have made her position on the team official and a podium would have helped, as well. But, fourth was strong enough, especially given the results from Gold’s primary competition to make her all-but a lock for the 2018 Winter Olympics team.

The Olympics, in Pyeongchang, South Korea, are set to begin Feb. 9 with the Opening Ceremonies.

Gold also made the team for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, though that experience didn’t go quite as planned. She was injured in a training run moments before the start of the competition and was taken to the hospital instead of taking her first actual Olympic competitive run.

In Pyeongchang, she’ll have a chance to re-write that history, though she’d probably prefer to do it with a better run than she finished with Saturday.

For the second consecutive week Gold was the top rider in the qualification round. On her first attempt in finals she rode similar run to that qualifying trip, but didn’t score as high. Still, with a solid-enough result on the board, she dialed up the difficulty on her next two attempts. She fell both times attempting the newest addition to her arsenal, a 1080.

It all didn’t add up to enough to get her on the podium, but she didn’t need that to stand out as one of the top four U.S. halfpipe women thanks to the results from other riders. Her closest competitor, the insanely qualified Hannah Teter, couldn’t put together a run good enough to challenge Gold.

Teter, the Olympic gold medalist in 2006, silver medalist in 2010 and fourth-place finisher in 2014, will in all likelihood miss the 2018 team after finishing fifth Saturday night. The other top competitor for the fourth U.S. team spot, defending X Games Aspen champion Elana Hight, missed Saturday’s finals.

The team nominations will likely all be announced in the next several days, so until then it’s not official. But, barring something unexpected, Steamboat’s Arielle Gold is on track to be a two-time Olympian.