- Associated Press - Wednesday, January 29, 2014

If Ken Gold can be honest for a minute, he never saw this coming. He just didn’t think it was possible for his son Taylor and his daughter Arielle to share the same room with each other, let alone the same sport.

“Every possible opportunity for them to get into a fight, it happened,” he said.

Toys. Who sat where at dinner. The remote. Normal brother and sister stuff. Give the Golds a chance to disagree and they not only took it, they usually took it up a notch, to the point where Ken once broke his hand after punching a wall in frustration trying to get them to cut it out.

So no, the patriarch of snowboarding’s resident first family didn’t see this coming, the day his kids would stand as the semi-stoic bookends of a giddy photo of the U.S. Olympic snowboarding team.


There they were on the sun-splashed Mammoth Mountain two weeks ago, arms aloft in triumph after taking two very different routes to the same destination.

Sochi.

“There wasn’t any cheesy hugging or anything,” Arielle said with a laugh. “We’re not like that.”

They’re also not at each other’s throats anymore either. That stage has long since passed, replaced by a close friendship that has helped both join the elite halfpipe riders on the planet. There’s every chance 17-year-old Arielle and 20-year-old Taylor - born 899 days apart - come home from Russia with a medal draped around their neck.

Ask them how that’s even possible and they’re eager to give the other credit.

For Arielle, her older brother is equal parts coach, motivational speaker and sounding board. For Taylor, his little sister’s rapid rise from part-timer to budding star provided the jolt necessary for him to close the gap on the Shaun Whites and Danny Davises of the world.

When Arielle spent most of 2013 coming home from World Cup events with a medal stuffed in her luggage, he couldn’t help but notice no matter how much she tried to downplay it. She hadn’t even gotten serious about her riding until 2011 and yet here she was throwing down world-class runs on a weekly basis while Taylor — bitten by the snowboarding bug while watching the 2002 Olympics on TV — spent the year struggling just to get out of qualifying.

“I was definitely jealous,” Taylor said. “I think that was important for my progression. I just liked having her there to support me and help me push through a kind of the rough season. It was awesome.”

And, it turns out, necessary.

“He had to find ways to be competitive with the best guys in the world,” Ken said.

Now Taylor is there, only he’s done it in an entirely different way than his sister. He’s an old soul in a sport is obsessed with reinvention and pushing the limits. While he lacks White’s explosiveness, he makes up for it by trying to tweak each well-established trick into something new. An extra board grab here. A remix on an old favorite there.

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