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American riders have had extensive training on the snowboard cross course in southwestern Colorado, and it showed Saturday in a World Cup event. They didn't, however, come out on top.
By Universal Sports | Posted: Dec 19, 3:38p ET | Updated: Dec 21, 7:38a ET

 

TELLURIDE, Colo. -- American riders have had extensive training on the snowboard cross course in southwestern Colorado, and it showed Saturday in a World Cup event. They didn't, however, come out on top.

Five U.S. men finished in the top nine, but only Ross Powers was able to land on the podium in third place. Pierre Vaultier of France won the men's final, ahead of Canada's Robert Fagan, Powers and David Bakes of the Czech Republic.

France's Xavier De Le Rue came in fifth and was followed by four Americans: Seth Wescott, Nate Holland, Graham Watanabe and Nick Baumgartner.

On the women's side, Maelle Ricker of Canada took first, followed by Simona Meiler of Switzerland, Dominique Maltais of Canada, and Mellie Francon of Switzerland. Both Ricker and Vaultier also won the first snowboard cross event of the World Cup season in September in Argentina. 

Faye Gulini was the top American female with a career-best eighth place finish. Olympic silver medalist Lindsey Jacobellis of the U.S. took 11th place. She had her board clipped on the final set of jumps by Ricker, causing Jacobellis to crash after a solid start in her first heat.

The race was the second of five Olympic qualifiers for the men, and Powers is the third U.S. rider to collect a top-four result in the first two World Cup events, as Wescott and Watanabe placed second and third, respectively, at the first. A top-four result is the lead qualifying criteria for the top spots on the U.S. Olympic team.

Wescott is the defending Olympic snowboard cross champion and Powers is seeking his third trip to the Games. He's already won two halfpipe medals, a bronze in 1998 and the gold medal in 2002. Powers also owns more halfpipe titles than any snowboarder in history.