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Some siblings have an uncanny knack for boosting each other up during low moments. For snowboarding duo Taylor and Arielle Gold, the boost comes in many forms—including an actual launch. High out of a halfpipe. Usually with an impressive flip or flourish.
The brother and sister from Steamboat Springs have each had their share of successes and pitfalls. Right now, Taylor, 26, is soaring. He just won a gold medal in the X Games’s first ever Superpipe Session in Aspen, landing a trick that had never been landed in competition (a double Michalchuck 1080, involving three full rotations and two back flips). Meanwhile, his younger sister, a 23-year-old Olympic medalist, is going through a rough patch.
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She suffered a concussion earlier this season while training in Switzerland, over-rotating out of the pipe on a frontside 1080 (she’s one of few females to routinely throw the three-rotation spin in competition) and hitting her head on the landing. It wasn’t until she was practicing for X Games in late January that she made the decision to sideline herself and let her head heal for a few more weeks.
“I’ve been gradually improving, but still getting headaches most days and dizziness while I’m snowboarding,” she says. “What makes it challenging is that it’s not something where people can explicitly say, ‘you broke your wrist or dislocated your shoulder, so here’s what you have to do.’ I’m basing all of my decisions off of how I feel. But I feel more mentally aware every day. I’m definitely doing my fair share of things to stay busy. I have not been bored.”
For the last few years, Arielle has been juggling her professional snowboarding career—which includes a bronze medal in the 2018 Winter Olympic halfpipe event and two silver X Games medals— with pursuing an advanced degree. She’s currently in her third year of undergrad at the University of Colorado Boulder, on her way to a bachelor’s degree in psychology, and she’s then planning to attend veterinary school at Colorado State University.
A lifelong lover of animals who grew up with dogs and horses, Arielle has been volunteering for animal shelters and fostering dogs all of her adult life. When she made the decision to bow out of the X Games and the Dew Tour, she decided to adopt a puppy—an eight-week-old chocolate lab named Layla.
“Since I’m taking some time off, it felt like a good time,” she says. “I’ve been fostering dogs for so long, it’s crazy to think I’m keeping this one. I have always loved animals. Becoming a vet is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time.”
Not many students, especially those planning on vet school, can simultaneously juggle a professional snowboarding career. Arielle figured if she doesn’t do it now—and over what she anticipates will be the next six years before graduating and finding her ideal job back in Steamboat specializing in large animal treatment—it won’t happen. While she’s taking some time off competition to recover, she is still planning to continue both snowboarding and studying, possibly returning for the Burton U.S. Open in Vail February 26–29 if she’s feeling up to it.
“I’m going to kind of see how the next few weeks unfold,” she says.
Until then, she’s got her brother to cheer on. Taylor did the same for his little sister during the Olympics when he was the one sidelined with a shattered kneecap.
“When I was going through my knee stuff, my goal was to get healthy but also to help her be successful,” Taylor says. “She was killing it at that time and ended up getting a bronze medal at the Olympics. Being able to help her with that was good for her and good for my recovery because I could live vicariously through her successes. I would argue the same goes for us this season.”
Growing up in Steamboat, Taylor and Arielle started out skiing shortly after they learned to walk. At age 7, Taylor switched to snowboarding and it wasn’t long before Arielle followed, both making regular trips to train and hone tricks at Copper Mountain’s Woodward facility.
“Being the shadow little sister, the only thing that ever bothered him was one time I forgot my jacket. I went to buy one and got the same jacket as him,” Arielle recalls. “I totally idolized him and really liked that jacket.”
As the older sibling, it was natural for Taylor to take a coaching role. At this point, the guidance has become reciprocal.
“We’ve been doing this together for so long, and we know each other really well and can gauge where each other is at mentally at any given time,” Taylor says. “Having someone you’re close enough with that you have that rapport has been really important for both of our successes.”
“It definitely has made me really happy to see him successful. That’s all I ever wanted for him,” Arielle says. “My plan is to go watch and support him as much as I can. My whole family is going for Dew Tour to watch Taylor. It’s hard to be hurt and watching because you wish you could be riding, but to see him healthy and doing well actually makes me feel better.”