Taylor Gold Leads Team USA’s Halfpipe Snowboarders At 2021 Toyota U.S. Grand Prix

by Justin Limoges

Taylor Gold competes at the Toyota U.S. Grand Prix Copper Mountain on Dec. 9, 2021 in Copper Mountain, Colorado.


COPPER MOUNTAIN, Colo. – Team USA might not have made the podium during the snowboard halfpipe finals at the Toyota U.S. Grand Prix – Copper Mountain, but 2014 Olympian Taylor Gold made the most out of it.

The Steamboat Springs, Colorado, native began his campaign to qualify for the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 after finishing fifth at Copper Mountain on Saturday.

Gold scored an impressive 87.00 in his second run, executing the McTwist – an inverted 540 mute grab – followed by a frontside 1260 tail grab and double Michaelchuk 1080. He concluded the run with a switch-side 1080 before coming into the corral.



This placed him only 0.75 of a point behind eventual third-place finisher Yuto Totsuka (87.75) from Japan. Totsuka’s teammate, Ruka Hirano, claimed gold with an 89.25. Switzerland’s two-time Olympian, Jan Scherrer, followed in second with an 88.50.

Gold rebounded from his first run, however, where he landed harshly on the ground, earning him a 3.00. He also earned a 20.50 after falling again in the final round.

Fortunately for Gold, the best run landed him in the top-half of the 10-man international field.

“[Today] was a great performance,” the 28-year-old veteran told Team USA. “I was very happy with that. That was the run I wanted to do coming into today. After slamming on my first run, it was really nice to land that second one.”

While Gold was the highest scoring American on Saturday, 2018 Olympian Chase Josey and three-time Olympic gold medalist Shaun White also competed in the finals, finishing sixth (85.25) and eighth (75.50), respectively.


Shaun White competes at the Toyota U.S. Grand Prix at Copper Mountain Resort on Dec. 11, 2021 in Copper Mountain, Colorado.


White, 35, aims to compete in his fifth consecutive Olympic Games, having competed and medaled since the Olympic Winter Games Turin 2006. He’s won gold in the men’s halfpipe competition in every appearance except for the Olympic Winter Games Sochi 2014, where he narrowly finished fourth.
Gold noted White continues to be someone to look up to on Team USA.

“I mean Shaun’s more a part of the U.S. team than he’s ever been in the past,” Gold said. “We do see him a lot – we see him at camps a lot – and I ride with him sometimes.”

While White is a legend in snowboarding, the competition remains tougher than ever, according to Gold.
“It’s always really hard [to make the U.S. snowboard halfpipe team],” said Gold. “The U.S. team is super deep and there’s a lot of really young guys on it right now. So, just to make the team is a huge accomplishment.”

Only three men can qualify for the 2022 U.S. Olympic Team for halfpipe, making this one of the most difficult processes yet. The COVID-19 pandemic made the last season another challenge for everyone, according to White. It made qualifying even harder.
Gold believes that this time around is quite different, being a veteran halfpipe snowboarder.

“I think coming in more as a vet than I was last time is more like trying to put down some good runs and maintain good standing,” said Gold, who is trying to make his second Winter Games. “I’m not trying to punch in there like I was during the 2014 Olympics.”
But he will continue to push for not only making the podium but qualification as well. 

“Always happy to be up there – top five is great,” Gold said. “And of course, I want to be on the podium, and that’s what I’m going to keep striving for, but I’m happy.”

On the women’s side, Zoe Kalapos had the best performance (fifth in Heat 1) for the U.S. during the qualifiers but failed to make the finals Saturday. 2018 Olympians Chloe Kim and Maddie Maestro did not compete at Copper, preparing for future halfpipe events.

Justin Limoges is a 2020 sports communication graduate from Bradley University, originating from Newport, Vermont. He is a digital media assistant for Team USA.