Krasnaya Polyana, Russia Taylor Gold spent the past six months in the moment.
He was never too far ahead of or behind himself. He never allowed himself to think about what could or couldn’t be.
2014 Winter Olympics
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And in those six months, he went from a relative unknown to the giant stage Tuesday evening, standing at the top of the half-pipe at Rosa Khutor’s Extreme Park.
“We were just in the moment, always working on what we could do at the moment,” said Spencer Tamblyn, Gold’s coach.
The moment wasn’t too big or too bright Tuesday. It just wasn’t Gold’s moment.
After qualifying for the semifinals, Gold just missed making the finals, eventually finishing eighth in the semifinals.
The Steamboat Springs snowboarder appeared as if he was on his way to the finals when he touched his butt to the snow on the last hit in his final run.
“We never even discussed not doing that last hit,” Tamblyn said. “Of course, in hindsight, it’s too bad we didn’t think of that. At the same time, he could have just as easily landed that and would have been right through to finals.”
Gold was visibly upset after his run. He sat down with his snowboard in front of him and his hands extended at the top of the snowboard. His head was down, knowing the brief touch on the last air would seal his fate.
Gold didn’t talk to members of the media afterward.
Head coach Mike Jankowski declined to comment, as well.
Earlier in the day, in the second heat, Gold put down a run that wasn’t quite good enough to get him right to the finals but easily secured his spot in the semifinals.
“It felt really good,” Gold said after finishing fifth in the second heat. “I put down a couple runs, and that was the goal coming into this qualifying. I’m stoked.”
In the semifinals, Gold washed out in the middle of the park on his first run, setting everything up to depend on his second run.
Tamblyn said he talked with Gold and other coaches, and they decided on a more conservative run that would put him into the finals.
The run changed from a double Michalchuk to a single on the first hit. The plan then was to do a front double 1080 to a double cab 1080 and a front 720.
Tamblyn said he thinks the rough pipe threw Gold off his line, and he had to adjust after the front double 1080.
After that, he did the cab 720 and then the double cab 1080 on his last hit.
Gold looked like he had it landed, but he got in the backseat and his butt touched.
“Because he made that on-the-fly decision, he thought, ‘I need to do that in the last hit,’” Tamblyn said. “Obviously, it didn’t work out for him.”
Tamblyn said Gold was upset after the run and rightfully so. It wasn’t just that he was here or that he was close to finals, Tamblyn said. With the way Gold had been riding — with a season of proof — making finals wasn’t just the goal.
“I mean, he was riding at podium potential,” Tamblyn said. “It’s an unfortunate thing to fall and not make it through, but it doesn’t take away from the level he’s riding at.”
To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229, email lgraham@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @LukeGraham