Robertson Fights to Capture Snowboard Silver

Mike Robertson captured Canada’s fourth medal of the 2010 Games in a near-perfect snowboard cross performance at Cypress Mountain. The Canmore, Alberta native won silver, missing gold by only a foot as he and American Seth Westcott launched over the last jump and leaned toward the finish line. It is the best-ever finish for Canada in this sport.

“The start is definitely key, and the finish,” Robertson said. “I had the start, but I didn’t have the finish today. I just missed the landing on one of the jumps a little bit and (Wescott) just nailed everything perfectly.”

It was high tension, high speeds and for Robertson, high rewards. It is also the third medal won by Canada at Cypress, after the freestyle moguls medals won over the weekend. Robertson actually led the final foursome for the majority of the race – as he did the semifinal and quarter-final – but couldn’t quite hold off the charging Westcott (defending Olympic champion) in this sport where anything can happen and where avoiding crashes is as important as speed.

Yet crashes are not easy to avoid, and Canadian Rob Fagan felt that in his semifinal, being taken out by a competitor as he was neck-and-neck for the lead. Fagan got back on his board and fought to catch up to the second-place rider (the top two advance) but ran out of course and finished third. But he wasn’t done yet – Fagan flew down the “small” final, a battle for fifth, and won the race. He celebrated by whooping up the crowd, enjoying his first Olympic moment.

Canada sent two other athletes to this race, Drew Neilson and François Boivin. Neilson, who is a team veteran and de facto spokesperson, reached the quarter-finals but caught an edge and crashed while jostling for position with French riders. Boivin’s led most of his quarter-final race, before having a spectacular crash after launching very high off a late jump in an attempt to reach the semis.

Congratulations to all four riders, who fought hard in an exhausting afternoon that featured qualifying races, 1/8 finals, quarter-finals, semifinals and finally Robertson’s silver medal final.