American Wescott defends Olympic title in men's snowboard cross

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American veteran Seth Wescott defended his title at the Vancouver Olympic Winter Games by winning the men's snowboard cross on the Cypress Mountain on Monday.

Wescott, 33, claimed the gold in the inaugural Olympic appearance of snowboard cross at the 2006 Olympic Winter Games in Turin. He didn't push himself forward in the two qualification runs where his best result was ranked 17th among the 35 competitors.

However, the American spared no efforts in the following knockout stage, claiming the second gold of the US team.

"My sister and my mom and my dad are all here. I ran into them on the way into the venue. So much of our competitive lives is spent away, and is travelling. To be able to compete in front of them is amazing," said Wescott, who also became the eldest snowsboard Olympic champion after the victory.

The first gold of the American team at the Vancouver Games also came from the Cypress Mountain as Hannah Kearney edged the host's sweetheart Jennifer Heil in the women's moguls last Saturday.

Olympic debutant Mike Robertson brought Canada a silver while French noname Tony Ramoin took the bronze.

In the big final, Robertson and Ramoin battled for the first place on the top while Wescott's younger teammate Nate Holland lost control, finishing off the podium finally.

"The trials didn't go so well. I knew I would be fighting from the bad gate," said Wescott. "I was in fourth. Nate went down; I reeled in Tony (Ramoin), drove his inside. Mike (Robertson) braked, and I went in."

In snowboard cross event, all riders have two timed single qualification runs. The best run of two decides the qualification ranking. Then qualified riders are divided into groups of up to four, the best rider of a heat chooses his/her lane first.

"The start is definitely key and the finish. I had the start, but I didn't have the finish today. I just missed the landing on one of the jumps a little bit and he (Wescott) just nailed everything perfectly," said the 24-year-old Robertson.

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