Arielle Gold 5th in 1st Olympic qualifier; Taylor Gold to miss season
Steamboat Springs snowboarder Arielle Gold was fifth in the women’s snowboard halfpipe Saturday in a U.S. Grand Prix event at Copper Mountain. The event was the first of four Olympic qualifying events that will decide the snowboarding contingent that the United States will send to the 2018 Winter Olympics in February in PyeongChang, South Korea.
Chloe Kim won the event with a score of 93.75. She led the way for an all-American podium. Maddie Mastro was second at 90.75 and Kelly Clark was third at 83.75.
Japan’s Sena Tomita was the only non-U.S. rider in the top five.
Each athlete got three runs in the halfpipe, and Gold took full advantage of that. Her best run was her last. She fell on her first two, but scored in at 77.25 on her final attempt, placing her just in front of sixth-place Jiayu Liu of China, who scored 76.75.
That fifth-place finish didn’t give Gold the one thing organizers are looking for when it comes to making the team: a spot on the podium. That’s the first requirement for making the squad, and Kim, Mastro and Clark all now have one under their belts.
Being the fourth American wasn’t all bad news for Gold, however. Three spots on the team will be decided by the four qualifying contests. A fourth may be added at coach’s discretion, so there’s still value in placing high, even if off the podium.
Japan’s Ayumu Hirano won the men’s event with a score of 95.25, ahead of Americans Ben Ferguson, second at 89.75 and Shaun White, third at 89.25.
Danny Davis was the third American, placing fifth, and Gabe Ferguson the fourth, placing sixth. Greg Bretz placed eight overall, Australian Scott James ninth and Louie Vito 10th.
Steamboat’s Matt Ladley didn’t advance to finals while Taylor Gold was entered but didn’t ride in the event and announced Friday he was taking the season off to rehabilitate from several persistent injuries.
Arielle Gold and Ladley won’t have to wait long for another crack at earning one of those vital Olympic qualifier spots. The second of the four events, the Dew Tour, begins Wednesday in Breckenridge. That’s the final event of December. The last two are set for January, the first at Snowmass and the second at Mammoth Mountain in California.
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