Steamboat Springs On a cold, snowy day that seemed to frustrate many competitors, Steamboat Springs snowboarder Arielle Gold was at her best, and on Sunday that helped her grab one of the best snowboarding results Steamboat Springs has ever seen.
Gold simplified her run to deal with the conditions, then hit it perfectly, setting her atop the FIS Snowboard World Championship half-pipe competition in Stoneham, Quebec.
“I was in shock,” the 16-year old Steamboat native said. “I can’t express how excited I am in words. I had no expectations coming into the contest and it turned out better than I ever thought it would.”
Gold may have been surprised, but few who’ve been paying attention to her were. She won the Junior World Championship and silver in the Youth Olympic Games in the spring and has reeled off a series of high finishes at top-tier events this season.
Sunday, though, was a breakthrough, and it came because of an intelligent move on Gold’s part. She downgraded her run to something more suitable for the conditions, which slowed many of the day’s competitors. She laid down a run starting with a backside air, then a frontside 540, a backside 540, a frontside 720, a cab 720 and a frontside air.
“She’s really comfortable with all of those tricks, and she was able to use them even though the conditions were rough,” Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club coach Spencer Tamblyn said. “She stayed smooth and the judges appreciated that she did it comfortably and didn’t have to fight through the tricks.”
She finished with a score of 79.00, ahead of second place Holly Crawford, an Australian rider who finished at 77.25, and Sophie Rodriguez, a French rider who was third at 72.50.
Gold’s best score came on her first run. She then had to wait through the entire second run to see if she’d be knocked out of the lead spot. She wasn’t the only one sweating it out.
“I was watching the results live and it got down to one person to go and it was such a cliffhanger,” said Ashley Berger, another Steamboat coach. “When I realized she won, it was amazing. World champ is a title you hold for life.”
Winter Sports Club program director Jon Casson was equally thrilled, but also not surprised.
“She’s super tenacious and she’s been that way since she first started on the team when she was 6,” he said. “To have a homegrown kid, someone who started here in our development program achieve this kind of success is awesome.”
Gold’s brother, Taylor Gold, also logged a good finish at the event. He was 20th on the men’s side, the second highest finisher for the United States.