Arielle Gold grabs 3rd in Dew Tour halfpipe, takes step toward Olympics | SteamboatToday.com

Arielle Gold grabs 3rd in Dew Tour halfpipe, takes step toward Olympics

Arielle Gold of United States competes in the superpipe finals during the Dew Tour event Friday, Dec. 15, at Breckenridge Ski Resort.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — There can be a disconnect, Steamboat Springs snowboarder Arielle Gold explained, a big difference between how she feels when she's at the bottom of a halfpipe just after a run and where the scores from the judges land.

She felt great last week in an Olympic qualifying event at Copper Mountain, for instance. She placed fifth, certainly not a bad result, but perhaps not in line with how she felt.

Friday, she felt great again and this time the result matched. Gold, already a 2014 Olympian, took a strong step toward a second trip to the Olympics with a third-place finish at the Dew Tour in Breckenridge, the second U.S. team qualifying competition of the winter.

"I’m just excited, more so excited about the way I was riding than the result," she said. "Obviously it's been a little while since I've been on the podium, so it felt good to get my mojo back and get back on the podium. I’m hoping to use that as a stepping stone to build off of for the rest of the season."

Chloe Kim won the event and in doing so guaranteed herself a spot at the 2018 Winter Olympics, coming up in February in PyeongChang, South Korea. She posted her best run on her first try, getting a score of 93.00.

Kelly Clark recovered from a nasty fall on her second run to earn a big result on her third try, a second of 90.00, good for second.

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Gold, then, landed her first two runs, her first one scoring the highest, 87.00.

"I'd say it was my amplitude and the way the run flowed," Gold said, comparing her result Friday with her's last week at Copper.

At Copper, she scored in at 77.25.

"Today it all came together really easily for me," she said. "It all clicked, which is something I’ve been expecting for a while, but it hasn’t quite happened, so I’m glad it did."

The result thrusts Gold right into the middle of the Olympic team conversation. The first thing an athlete needs to make the U.S. team is a podium finish at one of the four qualifying events.

After that, each podium finish is weighted. With two first-place finishes, Kim is a lock. Clark has a second-place finish and a third. Maddie Mastro was second at Copper, then fourth at Dew Tour, with a score of 84.33, leaving her and Gold in a near dead heat for the third spot.

After that, U.S. veterans Hannah Teter (fifth Friday) and Elena Hight (eighth) are in the hunt, though neither has a podium finish yet.

"This definitely helps, but there are still no guarantees," Gold said. "I'll definitely be looking to the next couple of qualifiers to solidify my spot a little more."

She has a big break before she’ll get that chance. The next qualifier starts Jan. 10 in Snowmass.

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

Dew Tour women’s snowboard halfpipe results

  1. Chloe Kim, USA, 93.00
  2. Kelly Clark, USA, 90.00
  3. Arielle Gold, USA, 87.00
  4. Maddie Mastro, USA, 84.33
  5. Hannah Teter, USA, 80.00
  6. Mirabelle Thovex, France, 74.00
  7. Queralt Castellet, Spain, 72.00
  8. Elena Hight, USA, 59.66