Triple joy for France as Chapuis leads sweep of the men’s ski cross podium
Jean Frédéric Chapuis led home a French clean sweep to take Olympic gold in the men's ski cross final. His compatriots Arnaud Bovolenta took silver, while Jonathan Midol survived a fall on the line to clinch the bronze.
“We’re living the dream!” said the new Olympic champion. “The three of us are great friends. So this really is a dream come true for us. It’s not really sunk in yet. We’re just so happy”
The French trio dominated during the day’s preceding rounds to make it to the four-man final, showing an impressive mastery of the contoured 1,250m course at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park, as their main challengers were picked off one by one.
The only person capable of halting a French sweep in the final was Canada's Brady Leman but he fell just before the penultimate jump as he tried to claw his way back from the back of the field.
“At the start we didn’t say anything to each other,” explained Bovolenta. “We didn’t look at each other. It was just a case of ‘high-fives all round and then off we went.”
From the start, Chapuis wasted no time in establishing the lead right from the start, but Bolaventa pushed him all the way.
“I was always confident I could do it,” explained the gold medal winner. “But I needed to work hard to maintain my position. I had a good lead from the start, but then all of a sudden I saw a flurry of activity next to me. It was Arnaud!
“I dropped back onto his shoulder to catch my breath. Then he made a small slip and I went clean past him.
“On the last jump, I was ahead and I could allow myself a moment to enjoy it. As I looked round, I could see the other French guys and I said to myself: ‘What’s going on?’ I don’t think we could have dreamed of a better finish.”
The Frenchmen – all born within a year of one another - held the red, blue and white tricoleur of France aloft, savouring the moment.
“We knew right from the start of the competition that the triple was a possibility,” said Midol. “We knew we had a great team, and we knew that we were capable of all making the final. But this is an incredible achievement!”