KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia -- Alex Deibold, 27, had never won a World Cup. Or the X Games. His best finish was fourth in 2012.
At the 2010 Vancouver Games, he attended as a member of the support team member, working as a wax technician for Nate 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.
He's too busy for that sort of work now, and besides, his hands will be full.
When he heads back home, Deibold will carry the Olympic bronze medal he won Tuesday in snowboardcross -- a sparkling reward for the behind-the-scenes grunt work he's done all those years en route to the podium.
His first World Cup podium came last year, he was second at the Sochi test event. 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.
"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."
Information from ESPN.com's Alyssa Roenigk and the Associated Press was used in this report.