February 16, 2006

Wescott wins snowboard cross

By Mark Meadows

BARDONECCHIA, Italy (Reuters) - Seth Wescott raced to
victory in the men's snowboard cross on Thursday to give the
United States their third snowboarding gold of the Games as the
new pursuit made its Olympic debut.

Radoslav Zidek took silver, Slovakia's first Winter Olympic
medal, after leading for most of the final race before world
champion Wescott overtook him toward the end. France's
Paul-Henri Delerue scooped bronze.

Wescott's triumph adds to U.S. golds for Shaun White and
Hannah Teter in the men's and women's halfpipe earlier in the
week while Lindsey Jacobellis is a hot favorite for the women's
snowboard cross on Friday.

Countless heats and finals had four riders race side by
side down the narrow, steep course littered with jumps.

Several dramatic collisions between racers in the new
Olympic pursuit has led to comparisons with Formula One motor
racing and speedskating for the crashes it generates.

Canadian medal contender Jasey Jay Anderson was
disqualified with Australia's Damon Hayler after they collided
in the semi-finals, while U.S. hope Nate Holland fell after a
jump in the quarter-final.

Canada's Drew Neilson, who topped qualification, crashed in
the first set of heats in the final round and World Cup leader
Xavier Delerue, Paul-Henri's brother, also failed to progress
from the heats.

Wescott managed to miss the mayhem around him in his heat,
quarter-final and semi-final but nearly came unstuck in the
final as Zidek, 51st in the World Cup rankings, stormed into
the lead.

Wescott looked beaten approaching the final bends but found
an extra burst of pace on his board to sneak past the

Zidek came back at him right on the line as Wescott eased
up too soon but it was too late.