Pierre Vaultier of France held off hard-charging Nikolay Olyunin of Russia to win gold and Alex Deibold of the U.S. took bronze in men's snowboardcross at the Sochi Olympics on Tuesday.
Vaultier fended off several advances by Olyunin in the final, drawing clear over the final jumps to victory. Deibold finished third after narrowly edging teammate Trevor Jacob in the semifinals.
The event was pushed back a day because of heavy fog, with officials modifying the format to cancel the seedings run and go straight to the elimination rounds.
Conditions weren't much better 24 hours later. Snowboard's version of NASCAR was held in a steady drizzle that slowed the course and made for dicey conditions. Several riders failed to finish due to crashes.
Vaultier was able to escape the chaos and win France's third gold in Sochi.
Deibold got up gamely for bronze, though not without a little bit of luck. He passed Jacob at the finish line in the semifinals, sliding across the tape on his rear just in front of Jacob — who struggled with the final landing and was on his backside as well.
A wax technician for Team USA in Vancouver four years ago, Deibold took advantage of the reprieve to salvage a medal for a country that had won gold in this event during its first two iterations in the games.
Deibold and Jacob fared better than their more experienced teammates. Nate Holland of the U.S., a seven-time X Games winner in this event, didn't make it out of the first round. He and Jacobs were well in front during their heat when Holland inexplicably lost his momentum after clearing one of the bigger jumps halfway down. He couldn't regain speed and ended up fourth.
Nick Baumgartner was a non-factor in his heat thanks to a board that didn't have enough juice.
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