KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia —
Vaultier did his best to minimize the danger. While the early heats sometimes looked like a parade as riders simply tried to grab one of the top three spots to advance, things became more contentious as the field dwindled from 39 to 24 to 12 to six.
One quarterfinal race contained a three-rider pileup. The first semifinal included Deibold and Jacob racing side by side, with Deibold accidentally hitting Jacob in the groin as his teammate tried to steady himself as they soared over a jump.
There was no intent involved. There rarely is in a sport that relies heavily on trust to keep the chaos from getting out of hand.
Deibold edged Jacob then sprinted to bronze, the painful memories of when he served as a wax technician — grunt work really — for the Olympic team after failing to qualify evaporating in the process.
“I’m going to enjoy not waxing my snowboard for awhile,” he said with a laugh.
So will Vaultier, who won’t decide whether to have the ACL he injured two months ago repaired until after meeting with his surgeon. Maybe he’ll just keep it in the brace for the time being. Seemed to work in the biggest race of his life.
“Right now I feel OK,” he said. “It’s even better with a gold medal.”
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