Two veteran U.S. snowboarders missed the season-opening FIS World Cup snowboard cross event in Montafon, Austria on Saturday.
Dual Winter Olympics gold medalist Seth Wescott and two-time Winter Olympian Nate Holland skipped this kickoff contest due to injuries they are recovering from. These top American medal hopefuls had to cheer their protégés from the sidelines.
The 37-year-old Wescott, who is focused on a three-peat in Sochi, is not fully recovered from a torn ACL sustained in an off-season, backcountry snowboard jaunt in Alaska last spring. Despite undergoing a rapid rehab program following his surgery, he felt his body was not capable of withstanding the bone-jarring jumps and kickers while contending against five other adrenaline-stoked racers.
“It's about being patient and riding every day until I feel I'm really ready,” said the elder Wescott whose age puts him at a physical disadvantage.
Holland, who just missed winning a bronze medal in the Vancouver Olympics finals, scratched himself from this race too, understandably. During a practice run on this course, he took a dangerous spill and broke his collarbone. Still recovering from surgery performed at a local hospital, he rooted for his teammates to fill the void.
While the U.S. squad placed four boarders in the top twenty, the unit’s best showing was Jonathan Cheever’s 13th place.
The second stop on this world tour lands in Lake Louise, Canada on the weekend before Christmas. Competing in this event, while not fully recovered, could do more damage than good. In which case, they will need to qualify in the two remaining contests in January to secure a spot on Team USA for the Sochi Olympics.
“There is no need to rush, and every extra week right now makes me stronger and more ready,” said Wescott.
On the bright side, Torino Olympics silver medalist Lindsey Jacobellis returned to this helter-skelter event, after a two-year injury absence, to place seventh in the women's event.
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