Wescott’s quest to defend Olympic snowboardcross gold medals in jeopardy

Seth Wescott of Carrabassett Valley surges down Sugarloaf Mountain during an event last year. The 37-year-old Wescott has not qualified for the Olympics, but could be made a discretionary pick based on his past success.
Sugarloaf Mountain
Seth Wescott of Carrabassett Valley surges down Sugarloaf Mountain during an event last year. The 37-year-old Wescott has not qualified for the Olympics, but could be made a discretionary pick based on his past success.
Posted Jan. 11, 2014, at 4:18 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 12, 2014, at 2:18 p.m.

Seth Wescott’s bid to win a third straight Olympic gold medal in snowboardcross is in jeopardy.

The 37-year-old veteran from Carrabassett Valley finished 31st overall Sunday in the final FIS Snowboard World Cup qualifying event before the Winter Olympics next month in Sochi, Russia.

That followed a 49th-place finish earlier in the weekend — when he failed to qualify for the 48-man finals by 0.02 second — during his first competitive event since undergoing reconstructive knee surgery last April.

Both races this weekend were held in Vallnord-Arcalís, Andorra.

A World Cup event scheduled for next weekend in Veysonnaz, Switzerland, was cancelled, forcing an early end to the Olympic selection period for U.S. athletes.

The U.S. Olympic team, which will be nominated later this month, will include at least three and at most four men’s snowboardcross riders.

Trevor Jacob of Golden City, Calif., two-time Olympian Nate Holland of Squaw Valley, Calif., and Alex Diebold of Manchester Center, Vt., already have satisfied the objective criteria for U.S. Olympic team qualification through the four selection events.

Criteria developed by U.S. Snowboarding allows up to three snowboardcross racers with at least one top-four finish in a team selection event to qualify for the team. If there are more than three competitors with a top-four finish, Olympic selection then would be based on each of those competitors’ top finishes.

Wescott still may have a path to the Olympics even without a top-four finish, according to the standards.

U.S. Snowboarding says an athlete “may be recommended by the Head Coach for selection to the team via discretion if they have indicated the potential for Olympic success and if there are available slots after the objective criteria has been applied.”

Wescott could be made a discretionary pick based on his Olympic success, but he’s not the only candidate.

Nick Baumgartner, a 2010 Olympian, turned in a U.S.-best eighth-place finish Sunday following a sixth-place effort Saturday and another sixth-place finish at Lake Louise, Alberta, last month, leaving him as a credible alternative to be a discretionary pick.

Wescott has finished better than seventh in one World Cup event since March 2011, winning in Telluride, Colo., in December 2012.

Another Maine snowboardcross rider, Alex Tuttle of Stratton, finished 23th on Sunday after a 21st-place effort a day earlier. The two results were his best finishes in the four U.S. Olympic team selection races , following a 27th-place effort at Montafon, Austria, and 35th at Lake Louise.

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