Vaultier defends his Olympic title in the chaotic snowboard-cross
The Frenchman won a thrilling men’s final at Phoenix Snow Park.
Pierre Vaultier recovered from an earlier crash to retain his Olympic title as the men’s snowboard-cross competition reached its predictably chaotic conclusion at the Phoenix Snow Park on Thursday.
The Frenchman had reacted quickest to a three-man pile-up in his semi-final, getting up to grab the third and final qualifying spot, and stayed clear of danger in a final in which half of the six-man field also went down.
The final had been thrown wide open in its early stages when a tangle took out Americans Nick Baumgartner and Mick Dierdoff and Australia’s Alex Pullin, ending their hopes of a medal.
Vaultier said: “I thought it was going to be an easy day, but it was really tough. The rough time in the semi-final when I collided with Jarryd Hughes and finished in third place, that was really sick.
The popular mass-start event hit the headlines at the 2006 Games in Turin when American favourite Lindsey Jacobellis tried an unnecessary trick on the last jump with gold at her mercy, and crashed.
Jacobellis said: “Knowing that a medal doesn’t define me as an athlete and that I have an eclectic resume, and am still here and haven’t given up, I’m going to put my heart into it and try as hard as I can.”
Great Britain’s Zoe Gillings-Brier also goes in the women’s event in what is her fourth Olympic Games. Gillings-Brier has finished in the top 10 in each of the last two Games, missing out on a place in the 2014 final in a photo-finish.
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