KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia – Four years ago, Alex Deibold was a wax tech in Vancouver. Now he's an Olympic medalist.
The Vermont native won bronze in his first Olympics in men's snowboardcross at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park on Tuesday. He barely missed the U.S. team four years ago but was the only American rider to make it through to the big finals here.
"It was grueling work, but it was a situation I was grateful for," Deibold said of the Vancouver Games.
"I remembered what it was like to be there. To be sitting here in front of you guys, stand on the podium today and wrap that flag around myself, all that sacrifice and hard work doesn't seem like a damn thing."
Pierre Vaultier of France won gold and Russia's Nikolay Olyunin took silver.
Deibold, 27, outlasted more veteran U.S. riders Nate Holland and Nick Baumgartner, who both went out in the 1/8 finals.
Trevor Jacob, also a first-time Olympian, went out in the semifinal when he and Deibold were in a photo finish that sent Deibold into the big final and Jacob into the small one.
After Jacob, 20, placed third in the small final to finish ninth overall, he said he thought he broke his ankle on the first jump in the semifinals.
In the big final, Deibold started near the middle of the pack and fell to fourth when he got passed on a curve. Be he did the same thing late, going inside past France's Paul-Henri De Le Rue to move into third.
After he crossed the finish line knowing he had a medal, Deibold raised his arms in triumph. His American teammates, riders more likely to claim a medal here, tackled him as they celebrated.
"I look back at 2010 quite a bit and used it as motivation," he said. "I've never minded working hard. I learned it from my grandfather and my parents. I enjoy the process. I enjoy working really hard and those sacrifices got me where I'm sitting right now."