Mick Dierdorff competes at the FIS Snowboard World Championships on Jan. 31, 2019 in Solitude, Utah.
SOLITUDE, Utah -- The emotions were as deep as the snow while Mick Dierdorff pumped his fists in the air and doused onlookers in white powder as he celebrated his first medal at a world championship event. It wasn’t just a medal, though — it was first place.
Dierdorff, a 2018 U.S. Olympian, took men’s snowboardcross gold beneath a bluebird sky on Friday at Solitude Mountain Resort while dozens of family and friends — and plenty of fans — cheered him on.
“My emotions, I don’t even know where they are right now,” Dierdorff said immediately after a celebratory beer-bath. “I’m on the clouds. I don’t know if this will ever sink in. This is the craziest moment of my life.”
Dierdorff became the first American man to win a snowboardcross world title since Scott Wescott did so in 2005 (though Wescott also won Olympic gold medals in 2006 and 2010). As the rider ended one interview to head to the podium, one reporter asked Dierdorff what he planned to do next.
“I’m going to Disney World!”
His reply had the crowd laughing and cheering louder than before, and from the look in his eyes it was apparent this gold medal meant just as much to him as a Super Bowl win does for NFL players.
Training his “ass off” was one key for Dierdorff’s success, but he clearly drew equal strength from the presence of his parents, sister and close friends. The group who came to watch Dierdorff was well over two dozen strong.
“It’s so cool,” said Dierdorff, who is from Steamboat Springs, Colorado. “Some people feel like they get distracted, but I embrace it. It gives me something to compete for and motivates me even more.”
Dierdorff didn’t turn away any media request follow his win, and he gave thoughtful answers while friends, family and fellow teammates interrupted interviews to congratulate him. It was almost an air of disbelief that he’d accomplished a world title that permeated Dierdorff’s demeanor. After all, coming into his first world championships this week, the 27-year-old had never won on the world cup circuit, though he’s had two podium finishes. He finished fifth at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018.
When the gold medal was hung around his neck on Friday, that seemed to cement the reality of his accomplishment, and nearly 45 minutes after the race he was still grinning ear-to-ear during a press conference.
Dierdorff’s win highlighted the first day at the FIS Freestyle Ski, Snowboard and Freeski World Championships for snowboarding and freestyle skiing, which run through Feb. 10 at three resorts in Utah.
Coming into the competition, Lindsey Jacobellis had never competed and finished anywhere but first at a world championships. Seeking her sixth world title in six tries, Jacobellis failed to advance past the semifinals on Friday. She ended her day by winning the small finish to finish fifth.
“I knew that trying to win six back to back would be extremely challenging, especially with how the level of women’s riding has just gotten more and more intense,” Jacobellis said.
A four-time Olympian and the 2006 silver medalist, Jacobellis came into the competition battling some injuries.
“I was having some trouble earlier this week during practice, I got a little banged up, and not feeling so great,” Jacobellis said.
However, she doesn’t place any blame for her loss on her health.
“It’s all what the day presents,” she said.
With no American women in the finals, the Moustache Marauder, Eva Samkova from the Czech Republic, took gold.
Other surprising finishes dotted the men’s results.
Three-time Olympian and snowboardcross legend Nate Holland was eliminated in the first heat. Nick Baumgartner, a three-time Olympian, lost in the quarterfinals and was visibly upset following his exit.
A young rider from Germany, Leon Beckhaus, and Baumgartner jockeyed for position on the fourth turn of the course. According to Baumgartner, Beckhaus refused to ride his own line.
“That kid kept moving around and around and trying to cut off my board and take me out,” Baumgartner said. “I mean, it’s part of the sport, it’s not illegal, it’s not how you should be riding. But what are you gonna do? Live to fight another day.”
The emotions cooled over time. And after Dierdorff won, Baumgartner showed why he’s one of the most respected and popular members on tour. In a touching example of sportsmanship and team spirit, he hoisted Dierdorff on his shoulders and carried him to the cheering crowd, where Dierdorff finally got his beer bath while celebrating the win.