Steamboat’s Dierdorff 9th, leads U.S. in key snowboard cross World Cup
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — He didn’t achieve one of the qualifying standards, but Steamboat Springs snowboard cross competitor Mick Dierdorff certainly didn’t hurt his chances of making the United States Olympics team on Wednesday competing at a World Cup event in Val Thorens, France.
Dierdorff placed ninth in the event and was the top American finisher.
The official selection criteria established by the U.S. Olympic Committee stipulates that as many as three athletes who have logged a top-three finish in one of five World Cup opportunities can make the team.
The first of those came in September in Argentina, and Jonathan Cheever started what will be an intense qualifying process with a third-place finish. Dierdorff wasn’t good that day, placing 33rd, but roared back the next day placing in another World Cup.
That second race didn’t count toward the “get-a-podium-and-you’re-in” rule, but it showed Dierdorff at his best.
Wednesday was the second of the five qualifying races, and again, Dierdorff was strong. He qualified in ninth place on Tuesday, then finished second in his first four-man race Wednesday, advancing to the quarterfinals.
He finished third in that pack, ending his day, but it was enough to earn him the fifth top-10 World Cup finish of his career, and, with that third-place finish in Argentina, to show a strong trend — something else that will be considered in the U.S. team selection if enough other riders don’t get that podium finish.
Among the other U.S. riders, Nick Baumgartner was 14th, Hadan Kearney 18th, Alex Deibold 19th, Jake Vedder 23rd, Nate Holland 28th and Cheever 31st.
Jarryd Hughes, an Australian rider who trained in Steamboat Springs and competed in the 2014 Winter Olympics, qualified in second place but finished 25th.
Dierdorff and the rest of the team will have another chance to bolster their resume immediately, competing Friday in qualifying and Saturday in the main event at a World Cup competition in Montafon, Austria. That’ll be the third Olympic-qualifying event.
They’ll hit the course one more time for the fourth World Cup competition Dec. 21 and 22 in Cervina, Italy. The last event is Jan. 19 to 21, 2018, in Ezurum, Turkey.