Like pretty much every other sport out there, competitive snowboarding is dominated by a select few riders who lead the pack for a few years before finally and inevitably being ousted by a younger, more sprightly version of themselves. The difference really lies in the length of time that these dominant figures stay at the top of their game.
In women’s halfpipe riding, it’s been all about Kelly Clark for yonks and bar the odd exception here and there, no one has seriously come close to touching her.
That could, and we emphasise could, be in the processes of changing. Last year, two kids won the Nokia Rookie award at the Burton US Open and in the following year, both exploded onto the halfpipe scenes proper.
We’ll save Ayumu Hirano’s story for another post but 16 year old Arielle Gold has had an equally impressive first ‘proper’ season. She was one of the only riders to beat Kelly this season when she won the Burton European Open back in February and although she’s still got a way to go to seriously challenge her, having 900s in her repertoire of tricks at the tender age of 16 gives us hope that she could stir things up a bit going into the Olympics next year.
We caught up with her here at the X Games to hear how she first got into snowboarding, her incredible Burton European Open result and her expectations of herself going forward. Turns out she didn’t do too badly here either!
Will Arielle be the rider that finally gives Kelly a run for her money? Either way, better watch your back Kelly – the young-uns are hungry and your heels just aren’t cutting it any more…