Deibold, 27, has never won a World Cup. Or the X Games. (His best finish is fourth in 2012.) In Vancouver, he attended his first Olympics as a support team member, working as a wax technician for Holland, Seth Wescott, Nick Baumgartner and Graham Watanabe. He competed the past season as a member of U.S. Snowboarding's B team, which meant that in addition to racing, he was back waxing and scraping his teammates' boards at World Cup races and the X Games. His first World Cup podium came last year, when he finished second at the Sochi test event in similarly warm, rainy conditions. This season was his best yet: He made three of four finals in qualifying events and was the first rider to qualify for the U.S. team.
Still, Deibold came to Sochi carrying few expectations. That he was here as a team member, and not as a wax tech, was a Cinderella story in itself. The rest was icing. "It was nice not to have that pressure," Deibold said. "Look at the favorites, Ted [Ligety] and Mikaela [Shiffrin], Bode [Miller], Shaun. Look at Shaun White. People will pick him apart because he didn't win. But that pressure is unbelievable. Hopefully I'll have to learn how to deal with it sometime. But it's been nice to only worry about the expectations I put on myself and focus on my snowboarding."
And for the first time in a long while, it was nice to not have to focus on the snowboarding -- or the snowboards -- of anyone else.
"My experience in Vancouver was grueling work, but it was a situation I'm grateful for," Deibold said. "I don't shy away from hard work, and it gave me motivation over the last four years, through surgeries and low points. To be on the podium and wrap the flag around myself, all that hard work and sacrifice doesn't seem like a damn thing. After 10 years, I made the A team today. I'm going to enjoy not waxing my own boards for a little while."
That would be different.