The 2014 Sochi Paralympic Winter Games is the debut for the snowboard cross event. As in the Olympics, snowboarders compete down a run with various curves, jumps and hills. However, in the Paralympics, athletes compete solo against the clock, rather than the group elimination races. For this first time Paralympic sport, Team USA seemed to own the event, as Evan Strong, Mike Shea, and Keith Gabel won the top three spots, respectively.
The single day competition on March 14 saw a field of 33 men snowboard athletes, including 5 Americans. The three run event saw a battle for first place between Strong and Shea. Shea achieved a time of 52.29 in run one, and Strong just a few tenths behind with 52.55. In the second run, the two teammates flipped positions with Strong’s overall fastest course run for the day at 51.62. This propelled Strong for the gold medal, with Shea at just one-hundredth of a second behind to be awarded Silver.
The final times for the snowboard cross is the total time of best two out of three runs. Times for the three winning Americans were Strong at 1:43.61, Shea at 1:44.18 and Gabel at 1:47.10, who took Bronze. The two other American snowboards competing were Tyler Burdick finished in eight with a 1:52.49 and Daniel Monzo finished in 18th with a time of 2:07.52.
In the women’s snowboard cross, Team USA had 5 women in a field of 12. American Amy Purdy held the third position throughout the competition capturing the bronze with a combined time of 2:14.29. Cristina Albert finished just off the podium in fourth with a time of 2.35.26. Unable to finish her second run, Heidi Jo Duce had a solid third run finishing with 2:37.43 to complete the top five finishes. Nicole Roundy finished in eighth overall with a 2:59.57 and Megan Harmon finished 10th with a time of 3:31.09.