Sochi 2014: Pierre Vaultier of France wins snowboard cross gold

By Nick HopeBBC Olympic sports reporter in Sochi

Frenchman Pierre Vaultier won a dramatic and rain-soaked snowboard cross final in Rosa Khutor.

Vaultier's achievement was all the more impressive given he tore his anterior cruciate ligament [ACL] in December.

It is an injury which usually takes a minimum of six months in heal, but he finished ahead of Nikolay Olyunin of Russia and USA's Alex Deibold.

The event had been delayed by 24-hours due to heavy fog on Monday, which saw the usual seedings round axed.

Athletes were placed in heats according to their world rankings and Russian Olyunin impressed throughout, winning each of his races before losing out to Vaultier in the final.

By finishing on the podium Vaultier, 26, and Diebold, 27, maintained their respective nation's record of winning a snowboard cross medal in each Olympics it has featured in.

The sport debuted at the 2006 Games in Turin.

It was the first time France had finished on top of the podium and Vaultier's team-mate Paul-Henri De Le Rue - who won bronze in Vancouver four years ago - was fourth.

"First Frenchman or not, it's incredible," said Vaultier. "I had a knee three times the (normal) size and did my cruciate ligament."

"Fifteen days ago I was doing everything to be here for this - what's happening to me is just incredible!"

Three-time Olympian Nate Holland of USA and Australian Alex "chumpy" Pullin, who were both considered strong medal contenders, fell in the early rounds.

World Cup leader Omar Visintin of Italy looked strong in the semi-final before a crash which saw him stretchered off the course.

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