Seth Wescott’s bid to win a third straight Olympic gold medal in snowboardcross may be in jeopardy.

The Carrabassett Valley resident, in his first competition since undergoing reconstructive knee surgery last spring, finished 49th among 73 competitors in Friday’s qualifying round for a World Cup event at Vallnord-Arcalís, Andorra.

That left Wescott one spot short of advancing to Saturday’s qualifying rounds — by a margin of 0.02 second.

Then 20-year-old Trevor Jacob of Golden City, Calif., scored a surprising victory in the championship race finals with U.S. teammates Nate Holland of Squaw Valley, Calif., placing fourth and Nate Baumgartner of Iron River, Mich., finishing sixth.

Jacob, Holland and Alex Diebold of Manchester Center, Vt., who placed third at the World Cup stop in Lake Louise, Alberta, last month, are the only U.S. snowboarders to have satisfied the objective criteria for Olympic team qualification through the first three selection events.

Criteria developed by U.S. Snowboarding allows up to three snowboardcross racers with at least one top-four finish in a team selection event to qualify for the team. If there are more than three competitors with a top-four finish, Olympic selection then would be based on each of those competitors’ top finish.

The fourth and final U.S. Olympic selection race is scheduled for the Andorra course Sunday. Another World Cup event in Switzerland was to be the final qualifier next week but was postponed until after the Olympics due to a lack of snow at the site.

Wescott still may have a path to the Olympics even without a top-four finish, according to the standards, which allow for a maximum of four competitors per gender in any of the Olympic snowboard events — halfpipe, slopestyle, snowboardcross, parallel giant slalom and parallel slalom.

U.S. Snowboarding says an athlete “may be recommended by the Head Coach for selection to the team via discretion if they have indicated the potential for Olympic success and if there are available slots after the objective criteria has been applied.”

The 37-year-old Wescott could be made a discretionary pick based on his Olympic success, but he’s not the only candidate for such selection. Baumgartner’s sixth-place finish Saturday followed another sixth-place finish at Lake Louise, leaving him as a credible possibility to be a discretionary pick.

Another Maine snowboardcross racer, Alex Tuttle of Stratton, finished 21st overall and sixth among American participants in Saturday’s race. It was his best finish in the three U.S. Olympic team qualifying races to date, following a 27th-place effort (fifth among Americans) at Montafon, Austria, and 35th (seventh among Americans) at Lake Louise.

Facebook comments

filed under: