Bolton ended up with a bloody nose a suspected broken wrist and an Olympic opportunity ruined. He toughed it out and patched himself back up for the Small Final but it was not his day and he fell again near the top of the course and could not finish. He was battered bruised and 11th on his Olympic debut.
“A little bit worse for wear, but it’s OK, it’s part of it. I went as hard as I could out there and this is how my day ended but that’s what the day had in store for me,” Bolton said.
“First heat I got out in front and got passed and passed back so went through in first and the second heat I had to make a few passes in one turn, but got most of the work done in that one turn – turn four – before the step down. It was going good and I managed to get through that. In the semi-final I was up there and got tangled in a turn and went off a drop and then got hit by someone else.
“Then in the small final, I think my wrist is broken, I’m not one hundred per cent sure but I got it strapped up and got straight up there and then crashed again.
Bolton hit his head and winded himself in the Small Final.
“I couldn’t breathe for a little bit there and I think I winded myself and I was in a little bit of pain.
Pullin watching on from the bottom of the hill with his day over he was disappointed to see his teammate’s run come to and end.
“God it’s hard watching my teammate (Bolton) crash like that,” Pullin told the media in Russia.
Pullin, the Australian Team Flagbearer, won the first 1/8 race of the day comfortably as did Bolton in his first race. Hughes was third in heat five to progress comfortably to the quarter-finals before the day went wrong for the Australians.
Pullin, was last at the start of his quarter-final and although he made up ground to be third mid-course he was overtaken when he lost speed with a mistake off a jump and could not recover. He was fourth and did not progress. His final placing was equal eleventh which is six places ahead of his 2010 but it was far from the placing he had worked so hard for.
“Really the only way to explain it is, it’s been a two-day long battle of conditions and waiting and anxious nerves and all sorts of stuff. All the normal emotions,” Pullin said.
“It’s a tough battle out there. They’ve done everything they can to maintain the course through some of the worst conditions you could possibly be to race. But the fact is, this is always a possibility and I kind of came here expecting that, cause we raced in similar conditions last year.
“When we came up here this morning, I did two training runs with a bunch of different riders and the feeling in the course was totally different to what our training days were.
“We had different speeds, the features – some had shrunk, some have stayed the same, it was pretty tricky to gauge what the day was going to bring and each run was slightly different. Sometimes the course got quicker and slower. It sort of threw the doors wide open.
“We’re not a sport where you sit in a lane and you put down your routine and you win the race, that’s not it. There are tightly bunched packs as well as the conditions.
“Anyway, I feel like I’ve done absolutely everything I could. I feel all of us have on the Aussie team.
“We knew it was going to be more like a fight rather than a perfect race with clean turns.
“The first run I got away and it went perfectly to plan.
“An inside pass move into turn three had been working for me really well, but as I went into that run the snow just cracked, finally gave way and I lost a lot of speed in that turn. That’s where I dropped back, into pretty much last I think.
“This is a course where you’ve got to keep momentum. If you just hold back and hope it’s all going to be good in the straight, it probably won’t be. You’ll be surrounded by riders. This is just a straight out war today with the conditions the way they are.
“I fought really hard after that to try and bridge the gap again. One rider went down. My chances were all of a sudden better. I went so flat on two jumps trying to catch up. I went the deepest I’ve been. The nerves were absolutely racing. Did the tightest line I could possibly do in the last two turns but just couldn’t bridge that gap.
“That’s how it is. It’s a tough race out here today. Definitely feel a little bit disappointed because I had the expectation. I’m feeling in really good form but at the same time there are 39 of us up there who are all in absolutely top form today and everyone’s just doing everything they can.
“It’s extremely hard to see. Our goggles are covered in rain the whole way down. You’ve got to be ready for that. We know it’s an outdoor sport and I did come here expecting that. Unfortunately I just couldn’t ride through it today and that’s how it goes.
“I gave it absolutely every shot that I had and that’s all you can do at the Olympics.
“I’m just really happy for Cam. I hope he’s alright, cause he had a pretty big crash there.
“It’s unfortunate for Jarryd too. He saw some bad luck in that early round.
“You never know when you’re going to get another race like this, might be at the next Olympics.
“I’m absolutely one hundred per cent happy with my preparation.
“I’m definitely a bit bummed about that, that it just didn’t go my way. That I couldn’t give people a better show.”
Hughes was near the front of the pack in his race before being taken out by Konstantin Schad of Germany.
“That’s boardercross. You get used to it,” Hughes who finished equal 17th on Olympic debut said.
“I heard him, he hit me, what are you going to do. I’m a little sore, but I’ll live.
“I was ready to go. I was a little bummed yesterday but today I feel good.
“It wasn’t that bad. It could have been worse.”
“God it’s hard watching my teammate (Bolton) crash like that.
Frenchman Paul Vaultier, who clashed with Pullin earlier in the season, which resulted in broken ribs for the Australian, went on to claim the gold medal. Vaultier missed most of 2012 after a serious ankle injury and came into the event with an injured knee and ranked sixth.
Russian Nikolay Olyunin, the 2010 World Junior Champion with a best result of fifth in World Cup’s this season, gave the locals plenty to cheer about by taking silver and relatively unknown American Alex Deibold rode to Bronze.
“When I passed the finish line I think I was still up in the air (from the last jump). My luck was that I didn't compete against the Russian until the final. I think that played in my favour," Vaultier said.
"First Frenchman or not, it's incredible. I had a knee three times the (normal) size and did my cruciate ligament."
"What's happening to me is just incredible. Fifteen days ago I was doing everything and working for this."
The event was scheduled for Monday but heavy fog impacted visibility and the race was postponed to the Tuesday with no seeding runs and the draws were based on international season ranking points.
Andrew Reid | sochi2014.olympics.com.au