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France's Pierre Vaultier overcomes chaos, defends Olympic snowboard cross title

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France's Pierre Vaultier successfully defended his gold medal in men's snowboard cross, becoming the second athlete to win back-to-back gold medals in the discipline.


Australia's Jarryd Huges earned silver and Spain's Regino Hernandez took bronze.


American snowboarders Nick Baumgartner and Mick Dierdorff finished fourth and fifth, respectively, after crashing on the same jump during the big final. Australia's Alex Pullin also went down on the same part of the course and finished sixth.


Vaultier set the fastest time in the qualifying round but wasn't necessarily dominant once the racing started. He ran into some trouble, particularly in his semifinal heat where he was one of four racers to take a fall.



The Australian duo of Pullin and Hughes cruised to the finish line to take the top two spots, leaving the other four riders to battle for the third and final transfer spot into the big final. Sure enough, it was Vaultier — highly visible with his red bib and red pants — who made it down the course ahead of the others.


The other semifinal was even more chaotic. Five of the six racers ended up crashing during the course of the race, including Baumgartner, who wiped out while in the lead. Only Hernandez made it through the heat unscathed, crossing the finish line with no one in sight behind him.


Sixteen seconds later, Baumgarter finally crossed the line to take second place. It was another 11 seconds until Dierdorff made it down to take third place.



In snowboard cross, the top three riders in each heat advance to the next round, so that earned both Americans a spot in the big final.


In the big final, Vaultier got off to a strong start and moved into the lead. All six riders in the final were grouped relatively close together as they hit the money booter, and the three riders in the back — Baumgartner, Dierdorff and Pullin — all crashed when they hit the landing.


From there, Vaultier managed to hold onto the lead and win the race. Hughes and Rodriguez battled across the line, with Hughes narrowly edging out the Spaniard for silver.



With the win, Vaultier secured his second Olympic gold medal. He also took gold four years ago in Sochi, where he raced with a knee brace and a recently torn ACL.


The 30-year-old Frenchman is the second athlete to win multiple gold medals in snowboard cross. (American Seth Wescott also won back-to-back golds in 2006 and 2010.) No one besides Vaultier and Wescott has ever won an Olympic snowboard cross title.


The event also produced a historic bronze medal for Hernandez, who won Spain's first-ever Winter Olympic medal in a sport other than Alpine skiing.


Olympic snowboarding resumes on Friday (Thursday night in the U.S.) with the women's boardercross competition.


Videos of key moments from all the rounds of racing can be found below.



Results


Gold: Pierre Vaultier (FRA)

Silver: Jarryd Hughes (AUS)

Bronze: Regino Hernandez (ESP)


4. Nick Baumgartner (USA)

5. Mick Dierdorff (USA)

6. Alex Pullin (AUS)

7. Alessandro Haemmerle (AUT)

8. Martin Noerl (GER)

9. Anton Lindfors (FIN)

10. Cam Bolton (AUS)

11-T. Nikolay Olyunin (OAR)

11-T. Christopher Robanske (CAN)


Finals



Semifinals






Quarterfinals






1/8 Finals









What's Next?


NBCOlympics.com will be streaming every round of every competition live online. Here's how to watch all upcoming live streams for boardercross.


Women's Qualifying: Thursday, Feb. 15, 8:00 p.m. ET
LIVE STREAM


Women's Final: Thursday, Feb. 15, 10:15 p.m. ET
LIVE STREAM




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