Steamboat Springs Arielle Gold finished third Saturday at the Burton U.S. Open in Vail, marking her fifth trip to the podium this season at major events.
When reached by phone after the event, she sounded tired.
The 16-year-old Steamboat Springs snowboarder was cordial, attentive and brimming with compliments for the half-pipe at Vail, her fellow competitors and the sport that has vaulted her into the national spotlight.
But there was exhaustion in her voice after answering what are becoming routine questions for an athlete who could become the next face of women’s snowboarding.
“It’s going to be pretty awesome to come home and relax,” Gold said Saturday. “It’s going to be a great summer. I’m really looking forward to it.”
If the summer goes half as well as the winter, it will be quite a year for Gold.
Ahead of Gold in the women's half-pipe competition were Kelly Clark — who continued her dominance in the sport, winning her sixth Burton U.S. Open, the most of any snowboarder — and Hannah Teter in second.
“I’ve been working on progressing my riding, and there’s no better environment to do it in than a competition setting,” Clark told the Vail Daily.
The event, however, seemed prime for Gold to win. She was the hot pick heading into the event and was able to land a pair of clean runs, but on her second run, she didn’t complete her last hit, a cab 900.
“I think I was a little disappointed in my second run,” she said. “I didn’t get it fully rotated. I was definitely hoping my score was going to be a little bit higher.”
But the event and the season have served as a coming-out party for Gold. Those who didn’t who she was certainly know now.
Her resume reads like one of the best. She won the World Championships, got bronze at the X Games, picked up a silver at the U.S. Grand Prix and won the European Open in Switzerland.
“I’m sure once this season is over, I’ll be able to better reflect on how it’s going,” she said. “I’ll be more excited. I don’t have time now. Once one (event) is over, then the next one is here.”
Gold has one big contest left, the X Games Tignes in Europe from March 20 to 22.
Then it’s time for summer and some much-needed rest. The summer won’t be all leisure, though. Gold already has said she plans to put a 1080 into her run. She’ll spend the summer perfecting that and, of course, enjoying the shade from the limelight.
“I think it’ll be good,” she said. “I’m excited to take some time off. I’m looking forward to Steamboat and riding my horses in the summertime.”
To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or email lgraham@SteamboatToday.com