Snowboard silver on Magic Mountain
By TERRY JONES, QMI Agency
Canada's Mike Robertson celebrates his silver medal following the men's snowboard cross finals at Cypress Mountain. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick)
WEST VANCOUVER — Cypress has become Magic Mountain for Canada at the XXI Olympic Winter Games.
Saturday Jenn Heil. Silver.
Sunday Alex Bilodeau. Gold.
Monday Mike Robertson. Silver. å
Edmonton snowboard-cross racer Robertson is, by far, the biggest longshot to come in for Canada so far in the XXI Olympic Winter Games.
But he didn’t think so.
A 50-to-1 proposition on a Las Vegas sports odds making site, Robertson lost the lead late to the defending Olympic gold-medal winner Seth Westcott of the USA.
“I didn’t think I was a longshot,” said Canada’s fourth medal winner of the Vancouver 2010 Games, who performed his feat before 4,375 fans as a result of 4,000 more of them having been turned away because their standing-room tickets would have left them standing in water. “I was confident. Last year I was second here. Same result.”
Longshot or not, you can maybe debate.
Unknown? No debate there.
At an Olympics in which just about every Canadian athlete had unprecedented exposure, Robertson snowboarded under the radar while his much higher profile teammates received all the notice.
“I have no idea if anybody in Canada knows who I am,” said the tall, serious-looking lad who didn’t at all like someone who had just won an Olympic silver medal on his trip through the mixed zone and to the interview room.
“Maybe they will know who I am now. I hear the Olympics are a big thing,” added the athlete who lived in Edmonton’s Millwoods area until his parents moved to Canmore when he was 17.
Robertson did allow one thing about the day.
“It was a pretty cool experience to do this in Canada before friends and family. It was an amazing experience.”
But where was the great grin?
“I’m a pretty mellow dude,” he explained.
That said, he wasn’t so mellow the night before.
“When Alex Bilodeau won gold, I almost cried,” he confessed.
At 24, with a birthday to celebrate next week in the Athletes Village with a silver medal around his neck, he’s the kid on the team who spent the weeks leading into Vancouver 2010 honouring his older teammates.
Those guys — Drew Nelson of Vernon, Robert Fagan of Cranbrook and Francois Boivin of Montreal — all qualified and then all made it through to the quarterfinals in the first four-man scramble in this wild and crazy event which made it’s Olympic debut four years ago.
Snowboard cross, a graduate of the X Games, is the equivalent of short track speed skating, except
down the side of the mountain with bumps and jumps and downhill ski turns with crash fences where the danger factor is dialed up dramatically. And, while it didn’t take out the defending gold-medal winner, the carnage was significant to eliminate most of the other favorites.
Nelson and Boivin both crashed to leave Fagan and Robertson going through
to the semi’s. Unfortunately they ended up in the same semi. Fagan couldn’t keep it together and ended up in the “small final” which he won to take fifth place.
Robertson finished first in the three four-man races leading to the final and led the final before Westcott caught passed him when he made the big mistake.
“I just missed the landing a little bit and he flew by me,” said. “I thought I was in control and going to win it. But as soon as I missed that jump I knew somebody would come up behind me.”
Coulda been gold. But, hey, he’s the kid.
“I’m just getting going,” he said.