Silver medal win bittersweet
WEST VANCOUVER, B.C. (CP) — Canadian snowboarder Mike Robertson rode his way to a silver medal at the Winter Olympics on Monday.
The 24-year-old native of Canmore, Alta., finished second in the men’s snowboard cross at Cypress Mountain.
American Seth Wescott captured the gold after catching Robertson in the final few metres.
“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 admitted he didn’t have the best finish.
“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.”
Tony Ramoin of France took the bronze while American Nate Holland fell out of contention early after losing his balance.
Rob Fagan of Cranbrook, B.C., Drew Neilson of North Vancouver, B.C., and Francois Boivin of Jonquiere, Que., were all eliminated in the earlier rounds. Fagan won the consolation final.
Robertson, ranked 10th in the world, wasn’t touted as a medal favourite in the event.
“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.”
Heavy rain and warm temperatures in recent weeks damaged the Cypress course and snow had to be trucked in. While the boarders said the conditions were less than optimal, they insisted they could ride in just about anything.
The weather also forced organizers to temporarily close the general admission section of the snowboard venue because it was deemed unsafe.
In snowboard cross, four athletes race down a narrow course with the top two in each run advancing to the next round.
The bruising sport, made famous for its NASCAR-esque smash ups, is bigger and badder than ever before.
Since the discipline’s Olympic debut four years ago, the courses have become steeper, the jumps are bigger and the banks are sharper.
Earlier Monday, Robertson was third in the qualifying, where riders race against the clock to advance to the elimination round. Fagan came 10th, Neilson finished 11th and Boivin 15th.
Robertson is the third Canadian in as many days to win a medal at Cypress. On Saturday, Jennifer Heil won Canada’s first medal of the Games, a silver in the women’s moguls. On Sunday, Alexandre Bilodeau secured Canada’s first Olympic gold on home soil, winning the men’s moguls event.
“ That was an amazing moment,” Robertson said of gold. “I was watching on TV, and I almost cried. It was so emotional. The whole crowd was just cheering, it was crazy. I had so many butterflies in the stomach. I was so excited to compete after watching that one happen.”
He was a cool customer on Monday, according to Fagan.
“He’s a very cool cat,” he said. “He’s very mellow, you wonder if he’s even remotely in the room.”
Gold medallist Seth Wescott, right, of the U.S., and silver medallist Mike Robertson, of Canada, come over the last jump during the men's snowboard cross final at the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Winter Games at Cypress Mountain in West Vancouver, B.C., Monday.