Krasnaya Polyana, Russia — Arielle Gold’s Olympics came to an end in devastating fashion Wednesday as the Steamboat Springs snowboarder was forced to withdraw from the afternoon’s women’s half-pipe competition after dislocating her right shoulder on her second training run before the qualification round.
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“Honestly I wasn’t that upset at that moment,” Gold said Wednesday night before the women’s half-pipe finals. “With the pain I couldn’t think of anything but being out of pain.”
Gold hurt the shoulder after landing a frontside 720. She said she caught something in the flat bottom of the pipe with lots of momentum. She fell on her stomach and put her arms above her head.
“My shoulder popped out,” she said.
After turning over she knew it hurt but wasn’t sure the extent. She started to pull her arms up and her shoulder wouldn’t move anymore. She went to the bottom of the half-pipe and was checked out by doctors, who confirmed it was dislocated.
It was more than 30 minutes before she would get the shoulder popped back into place. She was transferred to the clinic near the pipe, then taken by ambulance to another hospital.
“Even now, I’m grateful to be out of pain,” she said. “I’m not upset. It’s not ideal. I mean I wanted to ride at my first Olympics. I’m just grateful it was nothing more serious.”
The injury and subsequent withdrawal capped a frustrating week for Steamboat’s Gold siblings, who entered the 2014 Winter Olympics riding a wave of momentum.
The wave broke on its first rock Tuesday night when Taylor Gold narrowly missed advancing from the men’s half-pipe semifinals, slipping on his final trick, 99 percent of the way through a run that likely would have sent him to the finals.
Arielle said Taylor is doing much better on Wednesday given a day to cool off.
“He’s fine,” she said. “I think we both have the same process when it comes to contests. We take a few hours away from everyone and think about it. By the next day we’re totally fun. He’s doing fine. I think he saw what happened to me and he felt pretty lucky.”
So far, one of the defining factors in snowboard for these Olympics has been the state of the half-pipe itself.
Riders expressed outrage in the days leading up to the event at the half-pipe’s condition, pointing to the soft, slushy snow that, especially in the middle of the pipe, slowed riders and in some cases led to falls.
Gold said the pipe didn’t contribute to her fall, but said its state the past several days didn’t help with preparation.
“I don’t think the pipe had anything to do with the fall,” she said. “It made it challenging up until tonight because the pipe hadn’t been rideable. We didn’t have any practice. That’s what makes it rough. You had 25 minutes of practice do all your tricks without a lot of practice beforehand. It made it challenging.”
Gold will stay in Russia until the end of the Olympics. She said doctors told her she will have a full recovery and that in a few weeks she should be OK.
“I could see myself getting upset once things finally settle down,” she said. “It happens to everyone. It’s part of the sport. I don’t think it will do me any good to get upset. There is nothing I can do about it.”