Seth Wescott hoped the Winter X Games would clearly determine the final possible selection to the Olympic Team in men’s snowboard cross.
Wescott, the two-time Olympic champion, and Nick Baumgartner finished fifth in respective quarterfinals where the top three advanced to semifinals in Aspen, Colo., on Friday.
They are the two men vying for one possible final spot on the U.S. Olympic Team to be named Saturday. Three men have automatically qualified already — Alex Deibold, Nate Holland and Trevor Jacob.
The decision on a fourth member would be made by U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association officials as a discretionary selection.
The X Games were their final chance to prove in competition that they deserved to go to Sochi.
Wescott, 37, went up first and spent the early portion of his race in the back of a six-rider pack before his board and another rider’s board collided, costing him a chance at the top three.
“It wasn’t much of a showing,” Wescott said on ESPN3. “It wasn’t enough today. Discretion now. We’ll see. Hopefully [Baumgartner] rides well today. I’ve been saying the last couple weeks the Olympics has an amazing ability to transform people’s lives. I’d love to see him get through today well, and then go over there healthy and be able to represent the U.S.”
It didn’t go well for Baumgartner.
He rode less than 10 minutes after Wescott’s comments and was crashed into by an out-of-control rider. Baumgartner made it to the bottom of the course and lay on his back.
“Oh man, not what I was going for,” he said on the ground.
Wescott has won both gold medals since the sport was added to the Olympics in 2006 and could become the first American man to win three golds in the same event in Sochi.
It’s been a long road back for Wescott, who underwent a complete reconstruction of his left ACL in April after falling into an Alaska crevasse while shooting part of a film for ski and snowboard director Warren Miller. He tore the ACL and broke his tibia.
His return to competition came in Andorra earlier this month, the final World Cup event before the Olympics. Wescott finished an unimpressive 49th and 31st in two races, aiming for that top-four criteria.
Baumgartner, a 2010 Olympian, is the only U.S. man with three top-10 finishes on the World Cup tour this season.
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