Breckenridge Saturday night was a good one in the Gold household in Steamboat Springs, no doubt about that.
Given the chance to shine under the first big spotlight of the winter season, both Taylor Gold, 20, and his sister, Arielle Gold, 17, did just that at the Dew Tour half-pipe snowboarding finals in Breckenridge.
Taylor broke through on the men’s side with the best result of his career, a third-place finish. Arielle finished fourth overall, just off the podium but second among the Americans and thus second in Olympic qualification points.
“It’s unbelievable,” Taylor said. “I’ve dreamed of that moment for a long time. I am really relieved it actually happened.”
For Taylor, Saturday was a day he said he’s dreamed about for most of his life, and certainly one he earned this summer. The difference in the pipe, he said, was the double Michalchuk, a spinning, twisting dance through the air.
He focused on the maneuver all summer and is one of the only riders able to pull one off. He didn’t deploy it earlier in the week during qualifying, then just missed when he pulled it from his pocket during his first go Saturday.
“I scraped some speed on the landing so my frontside double cork on the next hit was small,” he said. “That made the rest of my run hard, and I didn’t get a good score.”
He was well back in the pack with a score of 67.0.
On his second run, however, he nailed it and nailed down his spot on the podium, scoring 89.6, just a hair behind unexpected champ Greg Bretz, in with a score of 91.4, and the rarely dethroned Shaun White, second at 90.4.
Steamboat got another strong result from Benji Farrow, who was ninth with a score of 70.6 on his first run.
“I really wanted to land the double Michalchuk better, and when I did that, the rest of the run just flowed,” Taylor said. “That trick made all the difference, the trick and being able to link it with other difficult tricks.”
Arielle was up next, and like Taylor, she struggled on her first run, even more dramatically than he did. She slipped on the landing of a frontside 900 about a third of the way through her run.
“Falling on the first run is never ideal,” she said.
One of the last athletes to go in each round, she needed a high score to crack that three-some when she began her second run, and while it was the clean, stylish and big kind of run she’s known for, she came up just short of the top three. She finished with a score of 84.2, fourth place. Australian Torah Bright won the event with a ripping first-run score of 95.4. Kelly Clark was second at 90.6, and 13-year old Californian Chloe Kim finished third with a score of 89.4.
“I wanted to put down a run I was happy with, and I did,” she said.
The result leaves both the siblings in great position to qualify for Sochi, though the Olympic qualifying process has only just begun. The Dew Tour was the first of five events that will be used to select the half-pipe and slopestyle teams. Taylor Gold is currently in third in a category where four athletes are expected to make the trip. Arielle got second-place points despite her fourth-place finish.
“There are a lot of contests coming up," Arielle said. “Things could change quickly. I’m definitely looking to get up on the podium in the next event.”
Neither athlete will have to wait long. They’re back in action next week at a Grand Prix snowboarding event at Copper Mountain.
Still, they may take just a minute to appreciate what was a great day for the family.
“I just can’t believe it,” Taylor said, reflecting on his result. “It’s hard to comprehend.”