LYNN NEARY, HOST:
The U.S. Olympic snowboarding team will be finalized over the course of this weekend. Two young snowboarders have been hunting for a spot on that team: 17-year-old Arielle Gold and 20-year-old Taylor Gold - they're brother and sister. NPR's Sam Sanders takes a look at their run for Sochi.
PATTY GOLD: Come on, Taylor. Come on, Taylor.
SAM SANDERS, BYLINE: Patty Gold may be the loudest spectator at the bottom of the half-pipe. She and her husband, Ken, are at the Copper Mountain Grand Prix, about two hours west of Denver. This is one of five qualifying events for the U.S. snowboarding team, and a spot in the Winter Olympics. The Golds' two children, Arielle and Taylor, are both competing in the snowboard half-pipe.
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SANDERS: Patty Gold says she's usually very nervous on competition days, but she had a bit of help this evening.
PATTY GOLD: Well, I had a glass of wine before I came up here, so that helped.
SANDERS: Father Ken Gold is a pacer. He refuses to actually watch near his wife when their children compete; he moves too much.
KEN GOLD: Get it. Come on. Get it. Get it. Come on.
SANDERS: Arielle and Taylor spin, flip and trick their way down the half-pipe. At the end of the night, Taylor wins first in men's; Arielle, second for the women. One step closer, for each of them, to Sochi.
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SANDERS: The day after their big win at Copper Mountain, they were trying to figure out what to do with the prize money they've been raking in recently. It's customary in the snowboarding world for winners to share a bit of their take buying drinks for all their friends and fellow snowboarders. But Arielle and Taylor are both under 21. They can't legally drink, so a nice dinner will have to do.
TAYLOR GOLD: You can - wait...
ARIELLE GOLD: Should I invite Haley?
SANDERS: Sitting around watching the Broncos game in sweatpants and thick socks, Taylor, Arielle and friends at the house try to figure out who should make the invite list. Their parents look on. Arielle bounces back and forth between an online calculus final and Googling restaurant phone numbers. Taylor and his friends are watching some Key and Peele comedy videos on YouTube. If they're under any pressure, it doesn't show, maybe because snowboarding been a constant for them for so long.
TAYLOR GOLD: I started when I was 7, and she started when she was 7.
SANDERS: Taylor remembers the exact moment he knew he wanted to be a snowboarder.
TAYLOR GOLD: I watched the Olympics in 2002. And I saw, you know, the men sweep the podium that year. And I was, like, oh, my God, that looks so fun. So, that year I asked my parents if I could take some snowboarding lessons and kind of just, like, snowballed from there. Yeah, no pun intended.
SANDERS: Arielle on the other hand, took a bit longer.
ARIELLE GOLD: For me, I'd say things didn't really start to get serious until probably, like, two years ago. That's when I kind of started to realize that I could make something out of this and I guess potentially go to the Olympics.
SANDERS: Arielle got really good, really fast, and last season, she ended up doing much better than Taylor. That just made him work harder.
TAYLOR GOLD: I just wanted to get to that same level, you know. I was really excited for her, but, I mean, super jealous.
SANDERS: Imagine being the parents of these two. Having one child athlete is hard enough. Having two, in the same sport, with a shot at the Olympics at the same time makes parenting them a career. Father Ken Gold videotapes every single one of their practices. The family moved across Colorado to Breckenridge from Steamboat Springs for five months every year just to be closer to competitions. And Arielle and Taylor chase winter all around the world.
KEN GOLD: They have a brief hiatus in the spring. Then they go to Mammoth, California, where there's still snow in May. And they go to Mount Hood for a month in mid-summer, and then they go to New Zealand for a month in end of the summer where it's winter in the other hemisphere. So, they're on snow, you know, 10, sometimes more months a year.
SANDERS: The family schedule might change soon. There's talk of Taylor going off to college, something he's put off for a few years to compete. And Arielle will soon be 18 and done with high school. Parents Patty and Ken say their family was never just about one sport anyway.
KEN GOLD: We've never made them do it. They do it because they love it and they're passionate about it. I love being the parent of great athletes. But I even more value being the parent of great people.
SANDERS: As for life after snowboarding? Ken and Patty say they could see themselves splitting their time between Colorado and a much warmer climate, doing more kiteboarding, one sport you don't do in cold weather. Sam Sanders, NPR News.
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