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Arielle Gold

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Even though she sustained a serious shoulder injury when she crashed in the halfpipe while in training shortly before she was to have competed in the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics as a member of the USA Olympic Halfpipe Team, Arielle Gold emerged relatively unscratched emotionally. Although she did not get to fulfill her dreams of competing at that time, she was still in a place where few others have been.

“It was so exciting for me to be around all of that activity and to see my teammates Kelly Clark and Kaitlyn Farrington up on the podium,” smiled Arielle. “It was more than just about the competition for me. It was about the overall experience and that was so cool for me.”

In a sense, the thrill of it all served to dull her physical pain at the time, but she is no stranger to the various bumps, bruises, broken wrists and inevitable concussions that go along with her sport of choice. She’s had her share of the physical pain, but that has never dampened her resolve to be the best she can be at a sport that is not always the most forgiving physically on even the strongest of competitors.

Born and raised in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, Arielle has long been a student of the slopes. She learned to ski almost before she could walk, and she took her first attempt at snow boarding at the tender age of seven. With dogged determination, a bit of youthful bravado, and a wealth of daring confidence, Arielle embraced the sport with unbridled enthusiasm and natural-born athletic prowess. Now, to those of us without her skills and talents, she makes conquering the half-pipe seem like child’s play.

“My older brother Taylor (also an award-winning Olympic snowboard competitor) introduced me to snowboarding,” recalled Arielle. “He knows me better than anyone else and I guess he saw that through my stubbornness and determination I could succeed at this. He pushed me, but he also supported me.”

In the beginning, Arielle fell down a lot, but she kept getting right back up, and within just a couple of days began to assume mastery of the snowboard. “Originally, I just wanted to improve for myself, but as I began to progress, I decided to enter a few local competitions,” she stated. “At first, it was just for fun and was very low key, but as I began to move through the ranks, I saw the potential in what I was doing.”

Potential might very well be an understatement. This young woman seemingly dominates this sport. After turning pro in 2012, she truly positioned herself to be one of the brightest stars in this arena. Among her career highlights include taking second place in the Winter Youth Olympic Games Halfpipe and Slopestyle in 2012; securing first place in the Burton European Open in 2013 and first place in the FIS Snowboarding World Championships Halfpipe (as the second youngest rider to win), along with holding strong to third place in the X Games in 2013, what she considers to be one of her breakout performances. “I was originally just an alternate for that event,” she said. “But Gretchen Bleiler, a fellow competitor, dropped out due to an injury, so that gave me opportunity to compete, which was huge for me.” These wins, along with several others, are what ultimately opened the door for her to become a Team USA Olympic Halfpipe member, an honor that took her all the way to Russia for the 2014 Winter Olympics as a medal contender.

Arielle seems to do all of this with such grace and ease, and fortunately her innate ability to balance herself on a snowboard allows her to easily transition to balancing life as an active and energetic teenager who has a cornucopia of interests off the slopes as well. She works out to keep in shape for her sport and is obviously focusing on regaining and improving her shoulder strength, but she also enjoys jumping on the trampoline or going mountain biking, bearing no shame reflex when it comes to admitting to what degree she enjoys that endeavor. “I really love to go downhill on the bike,” she laughed. “But the uphill is definitely a challenge I enjoy!”

Since she graduated from high school earlier this year, Arielle enrolled in online college classes through Westminster College in Utah, taking some basic psychology and English courses. Her ultimate goal, however, is to earn a degree in veterinary medicine. “Ever since I was little, I have had my eye on being a veterinarian, whether just a general one or one who specializes in equine care,” she explained, noting her heart of compassion for all animals. “I would love to provide affordable veterinary care to animal rescue groups such as Animal Rescue of the Rockies, which is an organization based out of Breckenridge that I have been working with since the Olympics.” When not hitting the slopes or the books, Arielle also enjoys long trail rides with two of her best friends, Sparky and Bugs, her horses. While she has done a few riding contests with them, most notably some barrel racing with Bugs, Arielle simply prefers to just enjoy their company out in the pasture.

Nevertheless, this tireless competitor still makes sure to keep her snowboard training as a priority and currently resides in Breckenridge with her brother so that she can train for future competitions. “I dedicated this past summer to getting stronger, and my shoulder is almost stronger than it was before the accident,” she noted. “I really enjoy competing and I’m looking forward to some upcoming events in California, Breckenridge, Copper Mountain and Switzerland.”

With so much going on in her life, it makes one wonder how Arielle even focuses on the task at hand, especially in those anxiety-ridden seconds before she competes, but she seems to just take it all in stride.

“Sure, there is that certain element of fear and nerves before I do a lot of the tricks I do,” she said. “But once I drop in, my mind just goes blank and I simply focus and am really just thinking about landing on my feet at the end.”

As for the fear aspect, Arielle has learned to take a page from her brother’s book, which reminds her, “Fear does not exist in the present.” Loosely translated, Arielle explained,

“A lot of what we do on the snowboard is scary. We have no idea what’s going to happen and are only afraid of something in the future, and with that in mind, you can’t control what’s not presently happening.”

And what about the big event to take place in South Korea in 2018? Is that on her radar? “It is definitely an option for me at this point,” Arielle asserted, leaving the door open to any and all possibilities. “I cannot see my life without snowboarding in it in some form and I am super grateful to do what I enjoy for a living.”

However, this seasoned professional knows that at the core of every passion is just one central reason for doing what intoxicates her spirit. “I want to bring myself back to the fun of it all and focus less on the results. I want to enjoy it for what it is,” she smiled.

Based on all that we now know about Arielle, we will take this as code for “Mark your calendars to cheer on Arielle Gold in the Winter Olympics of 2018 in South Korea!” Game on! We’ll get the winner’s podium ready for you, Arielle!