Steamboat Springs After failing to make the finals at the two biggest events of his season, the X Games and the Olympics, it appeared perhaps Steamboat Springs half-pipe snowboarder Taylor Gold had peaked in time to make the Olympic team but too early to shine on those enormous stages.
On Saturday, he hit a whole new kind of peak, however, flying high to win the U.S. Open in Vail.
Gold, who burst onto the elite snowboarding season this season to compile a heap of personal firsts, notched a score of 87.63 on his first run of the three-run finals. That was enough, his score holding as 10 of the best half-pipe riders in the world did their best to knock him out of the top spot.
They couldn’t, and the $45,000 first-place cash purse went to Gold.
“Coming into the event, I wasn’t really putting a lot of expectations on myself,” said Gold in a press release. “It was a relief to have the Olympic cycle over with. Just having fun here was my main goal, so walking away with this is beyond anything I expected.”
Gold, who competed in his first X Games this season as well as his first Olympics, earned his first U.S. Open podium. His run included a method air, a frontside 1260 tail grab, a double Michalchuk melon grab, a frontside double cork 1080 indy, a Cab 1080 roastbeef and a crippler chickensalad.
Taku Hiraoka, of Japan, was second with a best-run score of 86.88, and David Habluetzel, of Switzerland, took third with a score of 83.23.
Gold qualified for the finals earlier in the week in second place, the only member of the men’s half-pipe U.S. Olympic Team to make the cut. Shaun White didn’t compete while Greg Bretz and Danny Davis fell below the 10-rider threshold in the 31-competitor field.
Steamboat Springs rider Nik Baden also enjoyed a great week of performances at the U.S. Open. He placed 14th in the men’s slope-style finals with a score of 67.05. Mark McMorris, of Canada, won with a score of 87.5. Norway’s Stale Sandbech was second, and Canadian Maxence Parrot was third.
Steamboat's Arielle Gold was entered into the women’s half-pipe but didn’t start.
To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253, email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @JReich9
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