Published January 08, 2015
Krasnaya Polyana, Russia (SportsNetwork.com) - France's Pierre Vaultier held off Russia's Nikolay Olyunin to win the men's snowboard cross Tuesday at the Sochi Olympics.
Vaultier, 26, won his first medal in his third Olympics, fending off a late charge from Olyunin, who had won each of his three heats to make the six-rider big final but couldn't catch the Frenchman after the last jump on the way to a close finish.
Alex Deibold, one of four Americans in the field, earned the bronze in his first Olympics.
Deibold and U.S. teammate Trevor Jacob both crashed at the finish line in the same semifinal. Deibold advanced to the big final in a photo finish, his board crossing the line ahead of Jacob.
It was one of several crashes on a rainy day at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park.
Nate Holland didn't crash, but the American medal hopeful didn't make it out of the first round of races. Holland, who won his seventh Winter X Games gold medal in the event last month, was running second in his 1/8 final to Jacob when he lost momentum on a bad landing.
Only the top three riders in each heat moved on to the quarterfinals. A fourth American, Nick Baumgartner, was also eliminated before the quarters.
Kevin Hill was the only one of four Canadian competitors to make it as far as the semifinals but he crashed after Spain's Lucas Eguibar clipped the back of his board. Jake Holden, Christopher Robanske and Robert Fagan were also in the field.
France's Paul-Henri De Le Rue, Norway's Stian Sivertzen and Italy's Luca Matteotti finished behind Deibold in that order in the big final. Eguibar won the small final to finish in seventh place.
American Seth Wescott had won the first two Olympic men's snowboard cross gold medals, but didn't compete this time.
The competition was postponed on Monday because of fog. The seeding round was canceled, so the 39 riders moved directly to the 1/8 finals and were ranked Tuesday according to FIS points.