Day 10 of the Winter Games in Sochi, Russia will give fans one of the most entertaining events of all—the snowboard cross.
Feb. 17 belongs to the men's portion of the event in what promises to be a thriller. For the uninitiated, cross is a wild showcase in which four contestants race down the slopes at once on a course that features moguls, obstacles, banks and jumps.
While the course itself is worth the price of admission, the strong roster set to hit it is what makes this a must-see event. American viewers can only catch the action live online but will see a large chunk as a replay on television later on Monday night.
Date: Monday, Feb. 17
Live TV: None
TV Highlights: NBC prime time (8 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. CT)
Live Stream: NBC Live Extra
|Men's Snowboard Cross, Qualification||2 a.m.|
|Men's Snowboard Cross, 1/8 Final||4:30 a.m.|
|Men's Snowboard Cross, Quarterfinal||4:52 a.m.|
|Men's Snowboard Cross, Semifinal||5:04 a.m.|
|Men's Snowboard Cross, Final||5:12 a.m.|
Nick Baumgartner, United States
Medal hopes for the United States in the cross once again rest on Nick Baumgartner's shoulders.
Baumgartner failed to hit the podium in Vancouver but figures to be a strong contender this time around thanks to the experience factor.
Aggressiveness is what ultimately cost him a medal last time, but it does not sound as if that style is set to change. As Baumgartner told reporters after his selection, per Kevin Oklobzija of USA Today Sports (via the Detroit Free Press), he is in Sochi for a medal: “I didn’t come here to take second or take third, I came here to win.”
Good news for American fans: He also seems to be enjoying the course itself, which is a rarity in the strangely warm Sochi, via Rachel Axon of USA Today:
Keep an eye on Baumgartner, who may finally be on his way to a podium.
Alex Pullin, Australia
Australia's Alex Pullin, fresh off carrying the country's flag in the opening ceremony, is a favorite by many to take gold in the cross—for good reason.
Pullin was in first place for gold in Vancouver until a crash in the quarterfinals. Since then, he has taken home the top spot in two world championships.
Otherwise known as “Chumpy,” Pullin will compete in his second Games in Sochi. Fully healthy, he can put the experience of his first contest to use against a field that appears quite vulnerable with no clear-cut favorite.
Anything less than a podium appearance will be a resounding disappointment.
Nate Holland, United States
It is hard to find an Olympian with more experience than Nate Holland. He has unsuccessfully participated in two Games now but does have seven X Games gold medals to his name.
Holland is also an aggressive rider by nature, and his desire for a gold is what kept him from the podium in Vancouver after the men's four-man final, as he told reporters, via Chadd Cripe of the Idaho Statesman:
It hurts, because I was so close to getting a medal, to actually getting a gold medal. If I wouldn't have fallen in that turn, I'm pretty convinced I would have made that pass and (Seth Wescott) wouldn't have been able to catch me like he did the other guys, so that stings a little bit, but it's racing. I went down because I was trying to win an Olympic gold. I could have sat back and cruised into silver, but that's not what I'm there for. I'm there to win.
If Holland reaches the podium, it may prove to be one of the Games' biggest triumphs. He broke his collarbone back in December after a fall while training but recovered and went on to win gold No. 7 in the X Games.
While cliche, the third time may prove to be the charm for the 35-year-old Holland.