VAIL, Colo. -- Team USA swept the women’s halfpipe snowboarding podium at the Burton U.S. Open Snowboarding Championships Saturday in Vail, Colorado.
Kelly Clark took home the gold medal, Chloe Kim the silver and Arielle Gold bronze, a repeat of the podium from the Dew Tour Mountain Championships in December.
For the past two seasons, the three Americans have been battling each other for the top spot on the podium from competition to competition; however, they have a friendship outside of the pipe that helps propel them to the podium.
“These women pushed me today,” said Clark, a four-time Olympic medalist. “I was impressed by their riding and I think the future of women’s snowboarding is in good hands and alive and well.”
Kim, 14, has been riding well since her senior-level debut last season, and her results show proof of her success. She became the youngest woman to win a gold medal at the Winter X Games in January.
She says Clark has been an inspiration to her career.
“I remember watching Kelly at the Olympics and the U.S. Open,” Kim said. “She really stood out because she went so big, and she really inspired me to go bigger and do crazy tricks.
“She helps me out at all these contests. It’s so nice to have her around all the time.”
The women have a healthy rivalry that helps push them to new heights as they support one another both on and off the snow.
“I think it’s good. Over the years there has been Elena (Hight), Torah (Bright), Gretchen (Bleiler), great rivalries in women’s snowboarding,” Clark explained. “I use that word not in the sense of head-to-head, but in the sense of healthy competition.
“I love that. … It’s what you hope snowboarding is. It’s friendship, it’s camaraderie, and it’s everybody wanting to do their best and everybody doing their best.”
That healthy rivalry was on full display when Clark finished her third run, her victory lap. Already assured the gold medal, Clark was quickly tackled by Kim and Gold in celebratory fashion.
“It’s awesome to see these guys tackle me in the finish area,” Clark said. “You say snowboarding should be like that and then when you look around at these girls, it is.”
|Arielle Gold competes at the Burton U.S. Open Snowboarding Championships on March 7, 2015 in Vail, Colo.|
The halfpipe specialists aren’t the only ones helping each other out. Gold has been roommates with Olympic slopestyle snowboarding champion Jamie Anderson, who has been influential to Gold’s success.
“She’s rad,” said Gold, a 2014 Olympian. “She’s been talking me through this whole event. It’s been awesome to have a roommate to know what I’m going through.
“It’s also really cool to have a roommate who’s not in the halfpipe field, just to switch it up and get to know Jamie a little better.”
Teammates, friends and a sisterhood have kept the U.S. women competitive.
“I have some good little sisters,” Clark said.
“Which one do you like better?” Gold asked.
“Is that middle-like child syndrome?” Clark asked to a round of laughter.