Updates from Kuhtai after two days of Slopestyle Training at the Youth Olympic Games
A little dreary eyed from all the early mornings, two of team USA’s biggest stars, Arielle Gold who won silver in the Halfpipe on the ladies side and Ben Ferguson who claimed Gold just a few days ago, sat down with FIS for a quick chat this morning pre-training.
“The whole experience has been really fun, we have met tons of new really cool people” said Gold of the Games. She reflected on her Silver medal and admittedly was a little down about her performance at first. “At first I was a little bit bummed about not landing my run as good as I wanted to but then I realized I did really well. The winner (Hikaru Ohe, JAP) is a really good rider. Although I have competed against her before like in the Junior Worlds and the New Zealand Open, she was never my biggest competition like she was here.” Arielle, just 15 years old, had a lot of fun at the medal ceremonies in Innsbruck that night. “We got to hang out in the greenroom which was such a cool feeling.”
Although Arielle Gold is a halfpipe specialist, she has been training on the slopestyle course with her team hoping for some decent results. “I think the course is pretty fun. I am not a slope specialist so it has been a bit tricky trying to ride it but it is fun not having the same pressure that I had during the pipe competitions when there was more at stake.” She continues to explain the course and how it compares with others she has rode. “The jumps are a little bit different, the first is a step down then the second is a step up. It keeps it interesting for sure. I hear that they changed some of the features last night so it will be interesting to see what it is like out there today.”
As for her competition for slopestyle she adds, “on the girls side there are a few that are doing some good runs that I was impressed with. Doing spins and such.”
Coming all the way from Colorado, Gold shares some closing remarks on the whole experience in Europe. “It has been a great experience and loving the competition but also looking forward to a few days at the end to cruise around Austria and see some things. I am really looking forward to seeing the closing ceremonies on Sunday as well.”
She continues to conclude with, “it is similar to a lot of contests although we have been given more media attention than we are used to which has been a pretty good experience dealing with that. This has been a fun games and I hope that my other teammates do well in the final days.”
After chatting with Arielle, teammate Ben Ferguson came over with a big smile and shared his experiences with me. “All in all its been pretty sweet being at the games. I have met a lot of great people. Also, being in Europe for my first time too, has given me the chance to compare it with home. I really I see all the differences such as the mountains, towns and people.” He continued with excitement, “the Olympics are pretty cool. Media wise I have gotten to do way more interviews than I have ever done before. Its been great learning to speak in front of the camera as I have never had that experience.” He says that there is also media coverage of the games back home such as being on the news a few times and likewise in his local newspaper in Oregon state. “My Facebook is blowing up right now. Been good press in terms of an athlete.”
Ben has a lot to be proud of and shares his thoughts on winning Gold Sunday in the Halfpipe. “It was pretty awesome...I was really happy. I didn’t really know if I would win but I knew I was a contender but then when I won I was really stoked.” As for his most memorable moment, “the medal ceremonies that night were very different than anything I have done before, when you get up there on stage and they play your national anthem it is pretty unreal.”
With his first ever Olympic win behind him, he now turns his focus to the Slopestyle course. “The Slopestyle training has been good and I think I will do decently. I have felt good in there.” In comparison with courses he rides back home Ben says “the jumps are a little smaller but the jibs are really fun. All in all it is designed well. Usually there are three jumps which is fun but still this is a good course with just the two tables.”
In terms of his competition he shares, “there are some good contenders and so I need to land a good run to do well.” Ferguson will be looking out for the Slovenian and Bulgarian guys and also Max Remer his teammate, “I hope (Max) does well in the contest. I still want to beat him though, even though he’s my mate.”
Its been fun experience for Ferguson, something he says that he will remember forever adding that he really hopes to come back to europe.
The slope-style qualifications for both men and ladies start tomorrow, Thursday January 19th at 9:00 in Kuhtai.
For all the up to date information follow the Snowboard page on the Innsbruck 2012 website at http://www.innsbruck2012.com/en/sports/disciplines/snowboard
Pictures of the training can be found on the FIS SNOWBOARD WORLD CUP page at http://www.facebook.com/fissnowboard
(Story contributed by Mari Mathews)
(Photo Steele Spence)