Big moment awaits as Arielle Gold qualifies for finals in Olympic halfpipe
February 12, 2018
BOKWANG PHOENIX PARK, South Korea — It took two trips to the far side of the world over a span of four years, dozens of key competition runs and countless hours of training, but Monday it finally happened for Steamboat Springs halfpipe snowboarder Arielle Gold.
Officially a two-time Olympian, she finally actually competed in the Olympics.
It came down to a "survive-and-advance" philosophy for Gold in the women's snowboard halfpipe event at the 2018 Winter Olympics at Phoenix Snow Park in South Korea, but she did, and she did, and now, she'll compete again, Tuesday morning (6 p.m. Monday mountain time) in the halfpipe finals.
She placed 12th in qualifying when only 12 athletes advanced.
"I was definitely pretty nervous. I wanted to land that first run so it was a bit of a stressful situation to not quite put that down," Gold said.
Given just two opportunities to land a run, Gold missed on the first and dialed her run way back to ensure she got through on the second.
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Where she's typically been doing at least one 900 in her qualifying runs and seen a big boost in her qualifying scores because of it, she opted for a pair of 720s and a Michalchuk on her second attempt.
"It's just a balance between trying to be smart and trying to put in as much as I need to get in," she said. "Those tricks I did, that would be enough to get me through.”
She wasn't the only one. Kelly Clark also didn't land her first jump and was forced into putting together a very safe run on her second to ensure she advanced.
The rest of the U.S. contingent had no such troubles. Chloe Kim, 17 years old and the gold-medal favorite, rocked her first run then did even better on her second, finishing with a score of 95.50, the top mark of the round.
Maddie Mastro was fourth after she put down a clean first run that score at 83.75.
Clark's second run scored 63.25, and Gold's was 62.75.
Neither left much room for error. Gold was 11th after her run with a dozen riders still to go. It amounted to the weaker end of the field, and only one rider slipped in ahead of her, but if one more had been struck by a good day, Gold would have been watching in the finals rather than riding.
It was, a welcome turn from Gold’s experience at the 2014 Winter Olympics when she was injured while training moments before the start of her event.
She actually got to ride this year, and now she’ll get to ride again.
The finals should be a premier show of talent. All four of the U.S. women have landed 1080 spins in competition, as has Queralt Castellet of Spain. That trick — three full spins — will likely be a major factor in deciding the winner.