What were you doing when you were 17 years old? Probably not competing at the Olympic Games! But that's exactly what Team USA snowboarder Arielle Gold will be doing when she soars off the halfpipe in Sochi.
Gold backs up her precociousness with world-class talent: the young star won the gold medal at the 2013 World Championships in Stoneham, Canada. She'll look to add an Olympic version to continue a stunning beginning to her promising career.
In the meantime, Arielle managed to find time to chat with us over email about her training and amazing rise in the sport.
MBG: I've read that you got into snowboarding because of your brother. Is that true?
AG: It is true. I started out skiing at the age of three, and when I turned seven years old I tried snowboarding. My brother, Taylor, had started when he was seven as well, and seemed to be really enjoying it, so I decided to give it a try. I struggled a lot with it at first, and even considered quitting, but I stuck with it and I have no regrets.
What’s a typical training day like?
Usually I'll wake up around 8 a.m. and eat some breakfast, then go snowboarding. I try to ride for around 2-3 hours, then head home for the day. It's usually ideal to get up to the mountain early, get what I want to do done quickly, then go spin and stretch at the gym. Depending on how much I'm riding, I also like to do light maintenance workouts a couple of times each week.
How do you cross train?
Mainly I go to the gym, but I also jump on the trampolines. Strength is extremely important in snowboarding, so I try to be as strong as possible, while trampolines help to build air awareness and provide a safe place to try new tricks.
You've been all over the world for your sport. Any favorite places you've competed?
It's hard to pick favorites. I like different places for different reasons – when I am riding pipe, I love being in Colorado for contests. Their halfpipes are some of the best in the world, and make for great contests. Also, right now I am in Mammoth, California for a few contests, and I am loving every minute. The weather has been gorgeous and very warm, and the halfpipe is perfect! On the other hand, last year I went to Tignes, France for European X Games, and had some of the best powder turns of my life. I'd say that I love every place that I go, just for different aspects of snowboarding.
Were you born fearless or is this something you’ve cultivated?
I wouldn't say I was born fearless, and I am definitely not fearless now. I just think that the biggest part of our sport is having the ability to overcome fear. I believe that if you aren't scared while snowboarding, then you probably aren't pushing yourself hard enough.
Do you ever practice meditation or visualization?
I try to visualize every morning right when I wake up. It makes my muscles fire before riding, and gets me thinking about the tricks that I already know how to do, and the ones that I want to learn in the future.
How do you deal with the stress (and excitement!) of competition?
One of my favorite things to do during contests is listen to music. It helps calm my nerves a bit, while getting me excited to snowboard. Also, I just like to go up there and have fun and socialize with everyone.
Any favorite inspirational quotes?
I wouldn't say that I have one specific quote, but one that has been standing out lately is that "fear does not exist in the present." I like to think about that right before I drop into a trick that scares me. It helps me to stop thinking about how scared I am, and just drop in and do it.
Favorite guilty indulgence?
I would have to say sugar. I have such a big sweet tooth, and sugar is one of my favorite things. Chocolate is pretty good, but I love candy. Lemonheads are some of my favorites.
Anyone you want to meet at Sochi?
I wouldn't say that there is anyone specific that I would want to meet if I met to Sochi. I would love to get to know as many people as possible, and learn more about other winter sports as well.
Any plans to explore Russia afterward?
None as of right now... I've got to qualify for Sochi first!
We’re a wellness website so we have to ask: green juice or green smoothie?
I would have to say green smoothie. Although I have a delicious time with green drinks, I have always been a huge smoothie person.
And of course: Have you tried yoga? What did you think?
I've tried yoga a few times. There are parts about it that I like, and others that I don't. I'd say that I prefer the mellower yoga classes, where the goal isn't to get a workout, but just to relax.