Four years ago in Vancouver, Alex Deibold was a wax technician for the USA snowboard team. But in Sochi it was Deibold who won a medal for America in snowboardcross and not the more experienced riders.
He missed making the team in 2010, but wax tech Andy Buckley told him if he waxed the boards he would receive free travel. Buckley continued the deal with him through the four years in the World Cup and Vancouver. Deibold sacrificed everything just to make the team for the 2014 Winter Olympics.
“It was grueling work but a situation I was grateful for,” said the 27-year-old from Manchester Center, Vt. “But it gave me motivation over the last four years. When I was standing on the podium, wrapping that flag around myself, all that sacrifice and work didn’t seem like a damn thing.”
Experienced teammates Nick Baumgartner and seven-time X-Games champion Nate Holland were eliminated in their opening heats. The only Americans left were Deibold and Trevor Jacob. They were neck-and-neck in the first semifinal.
They leaped simultaneously over the second-to-last jump. Deibold was nudging Jacob with his leg, while Jacob was pushing Deibold down by his shoulder. They both stayed upright and even.
At the finish, they both slid for the finish line, the way a baserunner would go into second. Deibold’s board crossed a split second in front of Jacob’s. As they waited for the result of the photo finish to pop up on the board, the Americans shared a warm embrace.
Jacob was happy for his teammate and hugged him tight after the results were aired. After the flower ceremony, the other American snowboarders lifted up Deibold to celebrate the bronze medal.
Pierre Vaultier of France won the gold and Nikolay Olyunin won the silver.
Deibold later dedicated his bronze to Chelone Miller, Bode Miller’s brother:
— US Olympic Team (@USOlympic) February 18, 2014