Steamboat’s Gold sees bigger picture beyond her X Games performance
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — After Arielle Gold clipped the icy pipe at the bottom of her opening frontside 1080 on her second run, the announcers at X Games Aspen 2019 deemed it “mental warfare.”
Each competitor gets three attempts at the women’s snowboard superpipe at X Games. The Steamboat Springs native had yet to land a complete run, but that was half the battle for all the competitors that night.
In fact, the only person who landed a clean podium-run on her first try was 29-year-old Spaniard Queralt Castellet, and she held the top spot until gold-medalist Chloe Kim’s second run.
“For a few days, it was more or less not ride-able,” Gold said. “We were all on 45 minutes of practice.”
Normally, the competitors have days to prepare for the superpipe, gearing up to land their top tricks.
Gold’s routine included a frontside 1080 and a frontside 900, and she didn’t plan on letting up for a clean run despite the conditions of the pipe.
“I landed that run twice in practice,” Gold said. “I didn’t have any intention of holding back because it’s the X Games.”
Gold’s first attempt was the furthest she came to a full run. Right out of the gate, Gold excited the announcers by opening with a frontside 1080. As the final competitor before Kim and following American Maddie Mastro’s tumble, Gold was sure to set the pace for a gnarly competition.
Her final trick was the frontside 900, but the base of her board never landed firmly on the ground. She slid by her edge and fell forward, sliding backward before standing back up.
On her third run, Gold landed the 1080 but fell on the cab 720.
“I wasn’t mad about not getting on the podium but about having three runs and not being able to land one — not being able to see how that stacked up against the other girls,” Gold said.
Three days later, Gold said she’s over it and looking toward the World Championships in Park City, Utah.
In the year following her second Olympic appearance at the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, where she claimed the bronze medal, Gold underwent latarjet surgery, where doctors took a portion of the scapula and attached it to the front of the shoulder socket to help prevent reoccurring dislocations.
It was a long-term solution to a problem that has haunted her since the 2014 Sochi Olympics when she had to withdraw from competing due to a separated shoulder.
“I had surgery in April (2018) and didn’t start doing tricks until December,” Gold said. “Even then, I was just working into things, gradually, not rushing anything. Now, I’m feeling like I’m full strength.”
She spent the week leading up to X Games in Switzerland, finally landing her most dynamic tricks on the halfpipe for the first time since her bronze medal.
“It’s been a bit difficult just getting back into things mentally,” Gold said. “I’m coming back a little slower than normal. For me, I’ve been trying to be patient with myself and take the time that I need getting comfortable with riding again.”
Gold balances a life of school at the University of Colorado Boulder and professional snowboarding. It’s easier for her to take online classes this semester while she travels to compete, but she still likes to spend time in Boulder with her friends.
While she finishes up a psychology degree, which she hopes to earn by next spring, Gold is hoping to also take the veterinary school prerequisites this summer and fall, which will count as her electives. She hopes to apply to veterinary school soon after that.
During a post-Olympic year, snowboarders are welcome to take a few contests off, but Gold hasn’t.
“I love snowboarding, and I’m taking it year by year,” Gold said. “I don’t ever want it to be something I’m forcing myself to do. That’s what’s most important to me. I’m enjoying it.
“I won’t be one of those people who keeps snowboarding until my mid-30s because I’m not trying to graduate from vet school at 40,” Gold continued. “I’ve wanted to go to vet school since I was little kid. I’ve wanted to be a vet even before I wanted to be a pro snowboarder, and it’s the perfect combination of the two.”
Women’s Nordic combined will not be in the Olympics in 2026, preventing the Winter Games from reaching gender equality. The International Olympic Committee elected to not add the sport to the schedule on Friday.
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