Arielle Gold has been to the Winter Olympics before. She was a member of Team USA for the 2014 games in Sochi, Russia and was all set to compete in her first Olympics until an injury derailed her. Instead of competing, she was forced to withdraw and watch the games just like everyone else. This included watching her brother, Taylor Gold, compete in the men’s halfpipe competition.
But now that is all behind her and Monday night she looks to medal in the ladies halfpipe final. Gold is fortunate to be riding Monday night, as she almost didn’t make it out of the qualifying round. In the end she made it in the 12th spot out of 12 and is one of four American women competing. The other three are Chloe Kim (the current leader,) Maddie Mastro and Kelly Clark.
A native of Steamboat Springs, Colorado, Gold has been a member of Team USA for four years and is considered one of the top female snowboarders in the world. Yet the 2018 games are all about redemption for Gold. She’s not interested in being there to be there. Not again.
Here is what you need to know about Arielle Gold.
1. Gold’s Olympic Debut was Supposed to be in 2014, but an Injury De-Railed Her
Gold was all set to compete in 2014 until she dislocated her shoulder during a practice run. It was only her second training run and she was coming off a successful 720 before she “caught a snowsnake or something” and was on the ground. Even though the medical staff were able to pop the shoulder back in, Gold was unable to go on. She said the pain “was the worst pain she ever felt.”
Only 17 years old at the time, Gold was devastated.
“I think what made it frustrating wasn’t that I thought I would be on the podium,” she said. “it was that I didn’t even get the chance to try.”
The conditions in Sochi were notoriously not ideal for winter sports, with a warm temperatures creating slushy conditions and melting snow. For a half pipe to work, the snow must be solid and compact, two things that routinely proved to be a challenge in 2014. For her part, Gold didn’t want to blame her injury entirely on the conditions, but she did admit that they did indeed play a part.
“The weather was so warm that the snow wasn’t holding up well,” she said. “It got dangerous. You couldn’t see where any bumps were. That’s exactly what happened to me.”
Her brother Taylor also fell victim to the troubling conditions, bombing out during his qualifying round.
2. Gold’s Brother Taylor is Also an Olympic Snowboarder
Gold’s brother Taylor was all but a lock to be competing in his second Olympics in 2018 until issues with recurring knee and shoulder injuries forced him to sit them out. Unlike his sister, Taylor Gold did get to officially compete in Sochi, but he didn’t get the result he was hoping for. In 2018 he was looking for redemption, but injuries proved to be too much for him to overcome and be successful. He missed most of last season with a broken kneecap.
Despite his injury, Taylor Gold was able to return in time for the 2017 X Games in Aspen, where he took home a bronze in the men’s halfpipe. The elder Gold earned a silver medal in the 2011 Junior World Championships, a silver medal at the 2013-14 Mammoth Mountain U.S. Grand Prix and was the champion of the Copper Mountain U.S. Grand Prix/World Cup in 2013-14.
Taylor and Arielle trained together while coming up in the ranks in Steamboat Springs, sharing the same coach. That coach, Spencer Tamblyn, said that Taylor was more analytical and process-driven, whereas Arielle would “just go for it.” Tamblyn said that when Arielle was younger “she wanted to be as good of a girls’ snowboarder as (Taylor) was a guys’ snowboarder.”
If Taylor hadn’t been forced to bail on the Olympics, he and Arielle would have been one of 47 siblings competing in the 2018 Olympics. But I guess if you’re the Golds, if you’ve learned anything from all of this, it’s that there are other Olympics to possibly compete in in another four years.
3. Gold Had Trouble Getting Back Into Snowboarding After Her Injury
After suffering her shoulder injury in Sochi, Arielle struggled with getting her Olympic dreams back on track. Getting a shoulder fixed and rehabilitated is one thing, but getting your head in the right place to start back on the long road that leads to the Olympics is another matter all together. It’s a road Gold wasn’t sure she was willing to go down again.
“It’s been a bit of a challenge just getting in the right mental state, especially coming back around for another Olympics,” Gold said. “Obviously, it’s a pretty overwhelming process. The big thing I was trying to focus on in this offseason was just getting back to the point where I was really enjoying snowboarding again, because over the past couple years, it kind of got to the point where it was getting a little bit intense for me and kind of hard to really enjoy it.”
With Sochi behind her, Gold looked to regain her standing in the world of snowboarding during the 2015 season.
She finished fourth in the 2015 X Games in Aspen, second in the Sprint U.S. Grand Prix in Park City, Utah and third in the Burton US Open in Vail.
4. Even Though She Was Successful in Her Return to Snowboarding, Her Heart Still Wasn’t In It
Yet despite seemingly getting her career back on track, Gold still wasn’t fully committed to snowboarding and was having difficulty embracing the sport after her injury. There was “a lot of negative stuff was cycling through there,” she said. Stuff “which made snowboarding harder to enjoy.”
Mike Jankowski, the head coach of U.S. Snowboarding noticed the change in Gold.
“Arielle, she’s just such a great athlete and a great person,” he said. “You could see that the joy was lost in her performance, in her day-to-day riding, going through the grind. It could happen to anyone.”
Eventually Gold started working with sports psychologists who helped her re-center herself and re-commit herself to snowboarding. Her new mantra was “I got this,” an affirmation of her growing self-confidence. The result is that Gold is again having fun snowboarding. Her results have continued to improve just as her attitude has. In 2016 she competed in two X Games, taking home a bronze in Oslo, Norway and a silver in Aspen, Colorado. In the 2017 FIS World Cup Standings Gold was ranked sixth in the halfpipe standings.
5. Gold Loves Riding Horses and Watching Them Play Football
When she’s not snowboarding, Gold is all about horses. First there are her two pet horses Sparky and Bugs. Gold is lifelong animal lover and has dreams of becoming a veterinarian. She is currently studying psychology at the University of Colorado.
The other horses in Gold’s life are her beloved Denver Broncos. On Twitter, if she’s not tweeting about upcoming competitions or other things related to snowboarding, there’s a good chance she’s tweeting something about the Broncos.
Gold has also been known to compete wearing a Broncos’ jersey.
Hopefully her run to the Olympics has been able to keep her mind off of the team’s lackluster season, which is something I only say because of this tweet.