Team officials have left reigning world champion Jarryd Hughes out of Australia’s mixed snowboard cross team after below par form in the men’s event at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, opting instead for Cameron Bolton to partner Belle Brockhoff.
In a further blow to 2018 Olympic silver medallist Hughes, who was shattered after his performance in the individual race on Thursday, he has been told that if Australia is able to enter a second team Adam Lambert will be preferred to partner Josie Baff.
Watch Jarryd Hughes’ heartbreaking response to his exit in the video above
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Australia will get confirmation of a second team on Friday afternoon local time. As first reserves, they are set to step in if the Czech Republic withdraw as expected.
Hughes and Brockhoff, who finished fourth in the women’s event on Wednesday, won the mixed team world title in Sweden last year with Australia eyeing the first Olympic medal in the new addition to the schedule.
Heading into the Games, they appeared the top combination among the six-person boardercross squad.
And while three-time Olympian Brockhoff is still the No.1 choice over teenager Baff, the men’s entry for Australia’s top combination grew more murky after completion of their racing on Thursday.
Hughes, who won a silver medal in the men’s event four years ago in PyeongChang, was badly off the pace, qualifying through the seeding round in 28th spot.
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He was then eliminated in the first final, later admitting he preferred racing on a bigger Olympic course, in terms of jumps.
“You can’t make any mistakes and I made a big mistake when I was trying to make my move,” Hughes said.
“It’s disappointing – I should be able to do that move 10 out of 10 times – it’s one of those screw-ups.
“No excuses, I rode like s***.”
The 26-year-old had a troubled lead-in to Beijing, requiring ankle surgery and cortisone injections in order to compete.
“It’s been a tough couple of months coming back from surgery and bad injuries, concussion … I’ve been working my arse off to get it back,” Hughes said.
“I’ve been feeling good and I came here ready to perform and I haven’t.
“I’m just going to have to come back in four years to get that gold that I want.”
Fellow triple Olympian Bolton was the best of the Australian men, qualifying eighth fastest and then winning his 1/8 final before being over-run to bow out in the quarters. He won a World Cup bronze just last month.
The AOC announced that Brockhoff and Bolton were the two best ranked Australians after the individual competition and would get the nod.
The teams, who complete a timed relay, start at the quarter-final stage so only have to win three races to take gold.
Bolton was looking forward to partnering Brockhoff, who he said had shown great form to get to the final and finish fourth.
“It was a difficult day for her – she’s such an incredible rider and she’s really strong,” the 31-year-old said.
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