Steamboat’s Mick Dierdorff goes down in Olympic men’s snowboard cross quarterfinals, ending run at a medal
In snowboard cross, anything can happen. Like many sports, it’s the greatest allure, but also its ruin.
Mick Dierdorff of Steamboat Springs has been competing in snowboard cross at a high level for more than a decade, so he knows how cruel the sport can be.
The 30-year-old was given a brutal reminder in the men’s Olympic snowboard cross quarterfinals on Thursday, Feb. 10, at Genting Snow Park, as a fall ended his run for a medal.
In his quarterfinal, Dierdorff dashed out into second place, challenging Alessandro Haemmerle of Austria for first.
More than halfway down the course, Dierdorff got too close to Haemmerle. Trying to correct his position, Dierdorff wobbled on his heel side right before a heel turn, which caused him to tumble backward and take out Germany’s Martin Noerl on the way down.
Anything is possible in snowboard cross, so the downed boarders got up and completed their runs. However, Haemmerle and Spain’s Lucas Eguibar had already crossed the finish line uncontested. Haemmerle went on to win gold by less than a foot, as determined by a photo finish in the final.
In the seeding runs, Dierdorff finished in the bottom half of the pack. Seeding means nothing in the elimination round, though. All seed determines is what color bib an athlete wears and which gate they start in.
Dierdorff was in the far right gate in the blue bib to the right of top-seed Haemmerle. Haemmerle and Dierdorff jumped into the one and two spots in the heat, in which the top two moved on. Dierdorff plotted a pass while fending off Canadian rider Liam Moffatt.
More than two thirds of the way down, Dierdorff slipped by Haemmerle with an inside pass on a curve. He zipped over the last few features to win the heat and move on to the quarterfinals.
Dierdorff underwent the same process in his Olympic debut in 2018, in which he qualified at the No. 27 spot before eventually finishing fifth.
Dierdorff hit a high after those Games. In 2019, he won the men’s snowboard cross title at the World Snowboard Championships at Solitude Resort in Utah. He followed that with a mixed team title two days later alongside Lindsey Jacobellis, who won the first gold for the United States in the 2022 Games on Wednesday, Feb. 9.
Dierdorff will still have the team event, which will take place at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 11.
Americans Nick Baumgartner and Jake Vedder also competed in the quarterfinals. Vedder, who replaced an injured Alex Deibold, edged out his 40-year-old teammate in the final stretch to advance to the semifinals.
Vedder took third in the semis and competed in the small final, taking sixth.
Baumgartner, a now four-time Olympian, was disappointed in his Olympic performance, which ended less dramatically but similarly to Dierdorff’s.
“I put in so much time and effort,” Baumgartner told NBC. “And one little mistake, and it’s gone.”
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