Hitch your wagon to a star
Snowboarder Mike Robertson spent much of Monday afternoon staring down an empty mountain, until American Seth Wescott overtook him late in the final to edge out the Canadian for Olympic gold.
"It was kind of bittersweet," said Robertson. "Obviously I wanted to win for sure, but I'm so happy to be second. It's amazing."
Robertson, who is originally from Edmonton but trains out of Canmore, Alta., had jumped out ahead in each of his first three heats during his snowboard cross competition at the Vancouver Games, never relinquishing first place.
In the final at Cypress Mountain, Robertson again took the early lead, with 2006 gold-medallist Wescott, 33, close behind.
The two boarders were centimetres apart through the middle portion of the race, with Robertson jumping ahead late. But Wescott caught up on the final turn, passing the Canadian to finish first.
"I definitely made a mistake at the bottom, and he capitalized and he's the winner now, and I'm second," he said. "But I can't complain. Second's amazing."
Robertson, 24, the youngest member of the Canadian snowboarding team, captured Canada's fourth medal of the 2010 Games.
A relative unknown entering Monday?s race, Tony Ramoin of France beat out American Nate Holland for the bronze.
In the quarter-finals, Drew Neilson of North Vancouver bailed out midway down the track, spinning in front of the two other competitors.
Fellow Canadian Francois Boivin of Jonquiere, Que., caught considerable air on the final jump, tumbling face first and missing out on the semifinals.
Cranbrook, B.C., native Rob Fagan had his medal dreams dashed in the following round.
Paired in the same heat as Robertson, Fagan got tangled up and fell around the same spot as Neilson. He picked himself up off the snow and made a late push, but was unable to catch up.
Following the final, Fagan expressed joy for his countryman and spoke of the tight-knit Canadian contigent.
"Our team works really well together, and Mikey took the benefits out of it, for sure," said Fagan. "All of us did. We're all really proud of how we're racing."
During the first heat, top qualifier Alex Pullin of Australia couldn?t hold his balance, falling just seconds after the run began.
France's Pierre Vaultier, the reigning World Cup champion and gold-medal favourite, did not make it past the quarter-finals. Vaultier was leading his heat, but lost control after a jump and crashed.
Countryman Xavier De Le Rue caught an edge in his first run and lost his speed, ending his medal hopes.