Arielle Gold spins to third at U.S. Open |

Arielle Gold spins to third at U.S. Open

Hard crash keeps Taylor Gold from repeat championship

— A half a twist here and a few inches there were all that separated Steamboat Springs snowboarders Arielle Gold and Taylor Gold from a huge day Saturday in Vail at the U.S. Open snowboarding half-pipe finals.

Arielle Gold finished third but came up just short as she tried to twist through a 1080 on her last run, a trick that would surely have raised her score and could have bumped her up one, perhaps even two spots on the podium.

Taylor Gold, meanwhile, was 90 percent of the way through what he termed one of the best runs of his career when he crashed on the deck, sending him cartwheeling to the bottom of the half-pipe.

Mission: 1080

Only in the sometimes weird world of sports was Saturday a “what could have been” for Arielle Gold.

The U.S. Open is one of the sport’s premier events, and Gold matched her career-best finish in the event. She was also third in 2013.

She led through much of the contest, thanks to stomping her first run.

That gave her the chance to shoot for the moon on her next two runs, and that’s where she came up just short. Kelly Clark landed her second run to take the lead, and Chloe Kim hit on her third to slide past Gold into second place.

Gold went method, frontside 900, backside 540, frontside 720, cab 720 and crippler on the first run then tried to sub a second 900 into her second run. She slipped on that attempt, then came oh-so-close in an attempt at the 1080 on her third, catching the toe of her board on the snow as she came in to land.

Clark, who has a 1080 locked in, went on to win with a score of 91.00 and Kim, who hit her first 1080 Saturday, was second at 88.74.

Gold came in third at 83.87.

“I saw Chloe stomp a 10 and obviously Kelly hit her 10, so I felt like I should give it a try,” Gold said. “I still haven’t quite gotten it, but I’m close.”

Still, she didn’t let any disappointment ruin what she said was one of her strongest days of riding.

After a season spent mostly looking up at Clark and Kim, on Saturday, Gold swung with them, and came up just short.

“This season has been a bit of a challenge for me. I haven’t felt like I’ve reached my potential until this contest,” she said. “It’s a little late, but it’s really good to feel like I’m a contender again. It’s really good to be having fun riding and feeling more confident.”

Inches away

Taylor Gold never did land the run he wanted, but he came tantalizingly close.

His best tricks and his worst moment all came on his first run.

He soared through every hit — clean, powerful and big — all up until his last one, 50 feet from the finish corral where he could very well have been celebrating a run that would have given him the victory.

He twisted through a 1080 double cork, feeling great, and came down just short, on top of the pipe’s wall. His board bent hard, and he catapulted head over heels into the bottom of the half-pipe.

“When I popped, I thought, ‘I got it. I’m going to land,’” Gold said. “Up to that point, it was one of the best runs I’ve ever had, which just bums me out. I really wish I could have landed it.”

He just clipped the edge of the deck, and afterward, he said those few inches might have kept him from another trip to the top of the podium.

“I could have won with that run,” he said.

Medical personnel rushed to Gold, and he laid in the middle of the pipe for several minutes before standing up and riding to the bottom under his own power.

He said he felt fine by the time he got back to the top of the pipe, and he took his final two runs. He couldn’t put together another like his first, however.

“I wasn’t going to pull out. This is my favorite contest,” Gold said.

Taku Hiraoka of Japan won with a score of 90.00. France’s Arthur Longo was second at 84.99 and Japanese rider Ayumu Hirano third at 84.75. Gold finished eighth with a score of 61.12.

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

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