Steamboat Springs snowboarder Arielle Gold spins to X Games silver | SteamboatToday.com

Steamboat Springs snowboarder Arielle Gold spins to X Games silver

Arielle Gold smiles wide after landing a run at the 2018 Winter X Games in Aspen.

Last week Arielle Gold locked up her spot on the U.S. Olympic Team and next week she'll leave for the 2018 Winter Olympic in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Saturday, however, she put that all on pause for X Games Aspen and there she landed the best run of her career in women's snowboard superpipe, hitting a trio of big tricks she's been carefully refining for years.

She briefly took over the lead only to be narrowly eclipsed one run later by 17-year-old phenom Chloe Kim, but the end result was a tie for the best X Games finish in Gold's career and a run that puts her right in the medal hunt for Pyeongchang.

"That run I’ve been working on for the past few weeks, trying to land it every contest," she said. "Maybe that's not the wisest strategically because I've fallen on it a lot, but it all paid off here."

Gold finished with a score of 92.33. Kim was in at 93.33 to win her fourth X Games gold medal. Maddie Mastro finished third at 89.33.

The big boost from Gold came first in landing her newest, biggest trick, a 1080, at the very top of her run.

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She opted for a 900 on her first run of the night, going with a safe run that she landed. That didn't score high, however, and she was mired in fifth place heading into the final run of the night.

She dropped to sixth when Mastro, another 2018 Olympian, landed her own 1080, the first time she's even attempted one in a major competition. It's been a championship caliber trick in recent seasons, but only two riders, Kim and Kelly Clark, showed any consistency landing it in big moments.

Saturday, Mastro flew high and spun fast and landed clean, putting herself in that elite group. For the moment, she leapt into second place,.

Gold rose to the challenge.

She's landed the 1080 before, three times in the same event earlier this month during the Olympic qualification process.

She's never hit one quite like she did in Aspen, however. She got more amplitude than she has and landed clean.
She followed that with a 720, then a crippler and a method straight air before she got to her second big trick, a frontside 900.

The 900's been one of her go-to tricks, but she's struggled to land both it and a 1080 in the same run.

It seemed easy Saturday, however, and she rode that into one final trick, a Michalchuk.

She threw her arms in the air in celebration she skidded to a stop at the bottom of the pipe.

"My mind's pretty blank. I'm just overwhelmed," she said in an interview during the X Games broadcast on ESPN. "I'm so happy to be able to land that run clean. I've been working really hard trying to put down that run, so it feels amazing to see it pay off."

Kim didn't let Gold get comfortable on the top of the podium. She threw down back-to-back 1080s and a frontside 900 to retake a narrow lead.

"You just want to put something cool down. There was a lot of pressure, but I’m so happy I was able to do it," Kim said on the broadcast. "More importantly, I'm happy for Arielle. She's been doing so well and progressed so much this season, so I'm so stoked for her and her family. Hard work pays off, so I'm really happy for her."

Clark, a fixture on the podium in the Olympic qualifying events, also landed a 1080 on the night, in her first run. She clipped the deck and fell into the pipe on her second, however, and opted out of taking a third.

She finished fourth.

"This was the gnarliest halfpipe contest I've ever been a part of," Gold said. "To be on the podium is a huge honor. To be able to put that run down when the pressure was on, I'm really happy."

Aspen Times sports editor Austin Colbert contributed to this report.

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