The two Jewish athletes expected to have the best chance to medal at the 2014 Winter Olympics also happen to have the most appropriate last name: Snowboarders Taylor Gold, 20, and his sister, Arielle, 17, will both compete in the halfpipe event for Team USA at the Games in Sochi, Russia.
Team USA dominated snowboarding during the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, where the competitors walked away with four out of a possible six medals. The current team will be heavy favorites going into this year’s games.
Both Gold siblings bring recent successes to their Olympics debuts. Arielle won a bronze medal in the 2013 Winter X Games in Aspen, Colo., and Taylor, an initial longshot to make the team, stormed through qualifying competitions in California this year to become the first men’s snowboarder to lock up a Team USA spot for the Sochi games.
The siblings took to Twitter to express their excitement.
“Finally made it to #Sochi. Can’t wait to shred!” Taylor Gold posted on Feb. 3.
Arielle Gold took a more nostalgic tone on Feb. 1 when she wrote: “Seems like yesterday I was training in Steamboat’s 15 foot pipe … Now I’m headed to my first Olympics. So grateful.”
While Jewish athletes have historically enjoyed great successes in the summer Olympics, most notably in swimming, fencing and gymnastics, medals in winter events have been few and far between.
Only 25 Jewish competitors from around the world have medaled in winter Olympic sports and only six have won gold medals, according to the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.
Most recently, in Vancouver, Steve Mesler won a gold medal as part of the U.S. 4-man bobsled team, and U.S. ice dance skater Charlie White took home the silver.
Israel is sending five Olympians to Sochi in search of the country’s first-ever medal in the Winter Olympics. Out of 320 athletes who have represented Israel in all previous Olympic competitions, only nine competed in winter sports.