2010 Olympics: Holland goes fourth – with no regrets
CYPRESS MOUNTAIN, WEST VANCOUVER, B.C. and#8212; Wreck or win.
It’s the only way Nate Holland knows how to ride.
Monday at Cypress Mountain, the Squaw Valley snowboarder straddled that razor-thin line all the way to sniffing a gold medal in men’s boardercross, only to have a podium spot and Olympic stardom ripped away from him.
He had a silver medal, and was one pass from a win. Then he hit a rut, spun out and found himself in the back of the pack, his medal chances gone, and his U.S. teammate Seth Wescott left with an opening to whip past him en route to claiming a second Olympic gold.
That’s just boardercross, Holland said.
and#8220;I definitely ride on that razor’s edge,and#8221; he said. and#8220;That’s my style, except today it just didn’t pay off. I was fighting for a gold medal there and setting up the pass and just hit a hole that I didn’t see.and#8221;
It sounds trite, but it’s true: Until you cross the finish line, absolutely nothing is for certain in this sport. Holland, who has won an unmatched five gold medals at the Winter X Games in Aspen, knows that as well as anyone.
On an afternoon when the top qualifier, Australia’s Alex Pullin, went out in the first heat and other favorites went by the wayside, he and Wescott, of Carrabassett, Maine, looked like they were destined to win medals together.
They traded the top position in the two heats leading up to the final. They’d managed to skate cleanly through a number of close calls.
Then, with Holland humming along in second in the final, gearing up to make a pass on Canadian Mike Robinson on the next turn, he hit that hole in the track.
The Cypress Mountain venue has been plagued with bad press since these Games opened, ranging from soft courses to overwhelmed concession stands to a spectator viewing area that washed out from rain, but Holland didn’t single out the tricky course for his fate.
and#8220;It was a good course,and#8221; he said. and#8220;Really, they could have put any kind of course in front of me today. I was going to charge it. That’s what I planned on doing, riding my heart out, and that’s what I did.and#8221;
Holland added that he would have felt worse if he’d cruised to try to take second, instead of doing everything he could for the win and winding up with fourth.
and#8220;If you make a mistake going for Olympic gold, then you can’t be too bummed,and#8221; he said.
He also couldn’t have been happier for Wescott, who was as far back as fourth in the final before moving his way to the front. Robinson took the silver and unheralded French rider Tony Ramoin held on for the bronze.
Holland and Wescott have been regular fixtures on the podium together in recent years on the World Cup and at other boadercross events, including a run of seven straight podiums in 2007. While Wescott has his Olympic gold medals, Holland pointed out that he’s still the king of the Winter X Games, the event that spawned boardercross.
and#8220;You’ve got to look to the positives,and#8221; he said. and#8220;I’m fired up for Wescott. That’s killer that he two-peated at the Olympics. With my five-peat at the X Games, and his two-peat at the Olympics, I guess we’ll just control the two biggest snowboard races in the world.and#8221;
Wescott, amid the medal hoopla, didn’t forget to acknowledge his teammate.
He said when the two were winding up in finals together in 2007 and trading podium spots, Holland and Wescott used to reference the Will Ferrell movie and#8220;Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.and#8221;
and#8220;We kind of had the joke going that we were shake and bake for that whole season,and#8221; Wescott said. and#8220;When we got into that second round today, it was like, and#8216;All right, Nate. Shake and bake.’ Nate’s been an unbelievable teammate on the U.S. team. We’ve shared a lot of success together and I knew we were going to be battling together today.and#8221;
For more Olympics coverage, check out Nate’s blog located in and#8220;Local Olympic Coverageand#8221; under the sports tab on the home page.