Steamboat Springs Sometimes, it’s hard to remember Arielle Gold is just a normal, 17-year-old girl.
The Steamboat Springs snowboarder announced herself to the rest of the world last winter with an impeccable season.
Gold was named to the U.S. Snowboarding Pro Team, joining fellow Steamboat snowboarders Maddy Schaffrick, Matt Ladley and Benji Farrow.
Gold’s banner season included five podiums in major events this season.
She was third at the X Games Tignes, won the World Championships, captured bronze at the X Games in Aspen, picked up a silver at the U.S. Grand Prix and won the European Open in Switzerland.
“The biggest thing last season was previously I had been close to the podium,” Gold said. “I had time to think about that, and I knew I didn’t want to get fourth place anymore.”
Now comes an even bigger test. Gold, who has taken a month off this summer to spend time with her horses and relax, enters next season in a battle for one of four qualifying spots for the women’s Olympic team.
The team will be selected on how riders finish in four U.S. Grand Prix stops.
The first is Dec. 19 to 22 in Copper Mountain.
For Gold, the focus is on the process and not the byproduct. Thinking about the Olympics stresses her out.
“Of course, the biggest goal for the season is to qualify for the Olympics,” she said. “There is no way to ensure my next season will be as good as my last. I know you can have the best season of your life and then the worst season of your life.”
But Gold seems grounded and poised. Her time home has been good for her. She has dialed up the training, working out six times a week while following a strict nutrition plan.
And after a monumental year, one in which Gold traveled across the world, a little Steamboat sun has been good for her.
She said it’s one of the places she is able to find peace.
“It’s a challenge not being able to relax with my friends, go to high school prom or graduate with my classmates,” she said. “But everything snowboarding has given me outweighs that.”
But with a trip to Mount Hood in Oregon in July and a camp in New Zealand in August, Gold knows the biggest season of her young career is closing in.
She said she has had time to reflect on her banner year but has put all the focus on the upcoming season. She currently is working on increasing her amplitude in the half-pipe and wants to add a 1080 to her trick set.
Judging by last season, Gold’s career could blow up in the next six months.
Even at 17, she seems poised for the onslaught of attention that could come.
Besides, as she said, she just loves to win.
“That’s my competitive nature,” she said. “Every sport I played, even in gym class, I’ve been competitive. I don’t like to lose. I love to win.”
To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or email lgraham@SteamboatToday.com