Steamboat Springs’ Mick Dierdorff wins snowboardcross gold at world champs
February 1, 2019
PARK CITY, Utah — Snowboardcross rider Mick Dierdorff knew he could win the world championships at Solitude Mountain Resort, even if he had never won a World Cup.
Two years ago, he took third in a qualifying event at the Utah resort, and that was all the proof he needed.
On Friday, that belief carried him through to a photo finish — one that he had dreamed of for years — where he edged out his competitors, Hanno Douschan of Austria, and Emanuel Perathoner of Italy, to take first.
At the bottom of the run, Dierdorff was embraced by his coaches, friends and teammates, who mobbed him and poured beer over his head. He became the first U.S. competitor to medal in the 2019 FIS Snowboard, Freestyle and Freeski World Championships.
"I knew that I was badass on this course," he said standing in the finish area, the American flag not yet draped over his shoulders, but on its way. "I knew, coming into today, in the back of my mind, it was like, 'You can do this, you just have to execute.'"
Before Friday, satisfying results had often eluded the 27-year-old native of Steamboat Springs.
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Growing up, he was the youngest American to win a Nor-Am cup, but as soon as he broke onto the World Cup circuit at 18, he was pushed back out.
"It was tough," he said. "Just never giving up, that's been my whole career."
Dierdorff, who works as a framer in the summers, is used to hard work, and he said little successes kept him in the sport.
He said he never considered hanging up his board, even while taking the "12-year plan" to getting his business degree, including some classes at the University of Utah.
In 2013 his World Cup rankings started to climb, though he has stood on a World Cup podium just twice in 28 individual snowboardcross appearances — a second-place finish in Switzerland in 2018, and a third in Argentina in 2017.
Last season, he narrowly missed medaling at the Pyeongchang Winter Games, taking fifth.
"You have those little spurts of brilliance, that's what keeps me going," he said.
His hard work paid off on Friday.
Before his final run, he stayed loose, chatting with coaches and teammates.
He had just watched the last of his teammates, Jake Vedder, get eliminated from the super finals.
When the gate opened, Dierdorff leapt out, stayed upright after a crowded start, and beat Douschan to the finish line.
After the hugs from teammates, who had barely waited for the last racer to cross the line before rushing out, the champion basked at the finish line, finally living the moment he had envisioned so many times.
Many times, he had been the one pouring the beer over his teammates' heads.
"It's the craziest feeling," Dierdorff said of winning the world championships.
When asked what he was planning on doing next, Dierdorff shouted out to the crowd, "I'm going to Disneyland."
The crowd responded in cheers, but he might as well already have been there.
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