France's Vaultier defends snowboard cross gold, Canadian Robanske injured in crash

Calgary snowboarder taken off course by snowmobile, undergoes MRI on knee

France's Vaultier defends snowboard cross gold, Canadian Robanske injured in crash
Pierre Vaultier of France celebrates winning gold in the men's snowboard cross on Thursday in South Korea. © Clive Rose/Getty Images

By Nick Murray, CBC Sports

French snowboarder Pierre Vaultier repeated as Olympic gold medallist in men's snowboard cross Thursday in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

The defending world champion and crashed in the semifinal, but still managed to finish. And in the final world No. 1 got out in front out of the gate, and never relinquished his lead, as France has earned medals in the event in every Olympics since snowboard cross made its debut in Torino 2006.

Chris Robanske was Canada's top finisher, though he crashed in the semifinals and was taken off the course by snowmobile.

A spokesperson from Canada Snowboard told CBC Sports Robanske underwent an MRI on his knee, but that he wasn't in any pain and was returning to the Athlete's Village with team doctors.

Australian Jarryd Hughes won silver and Spain's Regino Hernandez won bronze for the country's first winter Olympic medal since 1992.

"I came into Sochi with outsider status and today I was the leader. It is really great to defend my title but it was way harder," Vaultier told Reuters.

"I didn't have anything to lose in Sochi. Today, I had everything to lose and I won it."

Vaultier also became emotional speaking about the fall in the semifinal that almost cost him a place in the final.

"That was terrible, it was really insane. I thought now everything is finished," he admitted. "It was a stroke of luck I could continue and qualify in third place."

The 30-year-old added that he was unlikely to come back in four years to defend his title in Beijing.

"I just don't know if I can put my body through it," he said. "It is hard to commit for another four years as I have family back home. It takes huge energy to work away from my family. I am happy if it all ends up like this."

Robanske missed final after crash

Calgary's Robanske was Canada's only rider in the semifinal. He got out of the gate quick into third place and pulled away with the leaders, but the 28-year-old crashed coming off a kicker and didn't finish the race.

After crashing he was run over by Germany's Martin Noerl and took a snowboard in the back. Robanske was examined by medical personnel, and was taken off the course by snowmobile.

Robanske also went down in his quarter-final race, but managed to get back up and finish in third to qualify for the semifinal.

VIDEO | Canada's Christopher Robanske injured in crash

Kevin Hill of Vernon, B.C., finished fourth in his quarter-final race and did not advance. Sainte-Marie, Que., native Eliot Grondin fell in his heat race and also didn't advance.

Baptise Brochu had pulled out of the competition after suffering an injury in training. The Saguenay, Que., native landed awkwardly in training and suffered a bone bruise and a small crack in the tibial plateau. He was examined by team doctors and it was deemed that he was unfit to compete.

With files from Reuters