Wipeout knocks Iron River’s Nick Baumgartner out of medal contention in Winter Olympics’ snowboard cross final

Nick Baumgartner of Iron River, right, hugs fellow American competitor Mick Dierdorff after the men’s snowboard cross semifinals at Phoenix Snow Park at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, today. (AP photo)

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea — Pierre Vaultier of France is back atop the Olympic podium in men’s snowboardcross.

Vaultier defended the title he won at the Sochi Games four years ago on Thursday by overcoming a crash that nearly ended his chances in the semifinals. The 30-year-old Frenchman picked himself up to finish third and move on to the finals, where he led the six-man pack for most of the way down the mountain at Phoenix Snow Park.

Jarryd Hughes of Australia took silver, with Regino Hernandez of Spain earning a rare Winter Games medal for his country by taking bronze.

American teammates Nick Baumgartner and Mick Dierdorff advanced to the final but both washed out on a jump and finished well back of the leaders.

Baumgartner is a resident of Iron River and attended Northern Michigan University.

Snowboardcross is part race, part matter of survival as riders battle inches apart down a series of bumps, jumps and dips. Riders are seeded based on time in qualifying but after that, anything goes. All that matters is finishing in the top half of your race to advance through the elimination rounds.