Arielle Gold advances in first Olympic qualifier | SteamboatToday.com

Arielle Gold advances in first Olympic qualifier

Steamboat's Arielle Gold spins through a 900 during the 2017 U.S. Open halfpipe finals.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — It wasn't a completely smooth day for Steamboat Springs snowboarders, but Arielle Gold managed to emerge from it with the only thing she needed: a spot in the finals of the first Grand Prix halfpipe event at Copper Mountain.

The event is serving as the first qualifier for the U.S. Olympic team, and the first step to qualifying was advancing out of Thursday's preliminary round.

Gold, aiming to make her second Olympic team, placed fourth in her heat and was one of eight riders to advance. She landed both of her runs and either was good enough to get her in, but she did improve on her second. Her first score was 74.66. She bettered that slightly to 79.33, setting her seventh among the eight finalists.

She’ll be joined in Saturday's final round by both some of the world's savviest Olympic veterans and several new faces.

Maddie Mastro, aiming for her first Olympics, led all the qualifiers with a score of 91.33. Chloe Kim, also shooting for her first Olympics, was second at 89.00. Jiayu Liu of China qualified at 84.00, Sena Tomita of Japan at 80.33, Elena Hight from the United States at 76.00, Mirabelle Thovex of France at 80.00 and Kelly Clark, a four-time Olympian already, with a score of 79.66.

Things didn’t go as well for Steamboat Springs riders on the men's side. Matt Ladley couldn't land his run on either attempt and finished with a score of 46.66, good for 35th on the day. Taylor Gold, also a 2014 Olympian, didn't start the competition.

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Australian rider Scotty James had the top qualifying score at 97.00. Ben Ferguson, Gabe Ferguson, Louie Vito, Danny Davis, Raibu Katayama, Shaun White, Ayumu Hirano, Chase Josey and Greg Bretz all advanced to the finals.

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253, email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @JReich9.

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