X Games the target for Steamboat athletes
Steamboat Springs — It is different, Arielle Gold said, but she tries not to dwell on that.
Standing at the top of the super-pipe at X Games is different than nearly any other competition, with the thumping music and the roar of a crowd that even the Olympic half-pipe event can’t match.
“It’s definitely a little nerve-wracking. I try not to think of it as being much different than any other contest,” she said. “There is definitely a much bigger crowd at this event, which helps me enjoy it more. They’re super interactive and supportive, so it’s pretty cool.”
Gold hopes to both soak in that atmosphere and block out the mayhem this weekend as she competes in the ESPN winter sports extravaganza in Aspen for the third time in her career.
Gold will be one of two Steamboat Springs athletes guaranteed to compete this weekend. She competes at 6 p.m. Saturday in the women’s super-pipe finals.
Her brother, Taylor Gold, will compete in the men’s super-pipe qualification and finals starting at 6 p.m. Thursday.
The men’s event will be televised Saturday night on ESPN starting at 7 p.m. The women’s can be seen on ESPN3, a web-based platform.
Half-pipers Matt Ladley and Maddy Schaffrick, both from Steamboat, are alternates for the events and both could ride, as well.
Nik Baden, meanwhile, will be competing in the men’s snowboarding slopestyle event on Friday. He was an alternate last year and also was a forerunner in the half-pipe when he was 12 years old.
This will be his first year competing.
Arielle Gold will try to build on what’s already been an excellent stint in X Games.
Her first stop on that big stage came in 2013. She made the field as an alternate that year, just a week after winning a half-pipe world championship.
She kept up her torrid season with a third-place finish.
She went back last year, an alternate no more, having recently qualified for the 2014 Winter Olympics. She finished fourth.
“This year, I’m trying not to have any expectations,” she said Tuesday. “I really enjoyed practice last night, which was a good sign. I just want to enjoy this event for what it is and be riding to the best of my ability. Hopefully, the results will come.”
The results certainly have been coming so far this season.
Gold was second in a season-opening U.S. Grand Prix event at Copper Mountain, then placed third last month at the Dew Tour in Breckenridge.
She will try for that success again against a strong but small field including legend Kelly Clark and young phenom Chloe Kim.
On the men’s side, Taylor Gold will be trying to keep an insanely hot streak alive.
He’s won his last four competitions including the first two of this season, the Grand Prix and Dew Tour.
The fields in those competitions have included many of the best in the sport.
The field on Thursday will include all of the best in the sport. Shaun White will be there for his first competition since finishing fourth at the Olympics. The man who dethroned him for the Olympic gold medal, Swiss rider Iouri Podladtchikov, will be there, as well.
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